Wishing our readers safety during Hurricane Ian. Michele
Whether you are a plotter or a pantser, what will be, will be.
I happen to be a panster, outlining only in my head during the middle of the night when I have insomnia. I know people who write outlines so intricately planned they look like a mathematical formula to me. Regardless of where you stand on the spectrum, writing is organic. Even the most rigid plotter has had moments when the story or the character takes siege. If smart, the writer lets the snow fall, the wind blow, and the writing flow.
Too much detail can get boring.
I have lived near the ocean for most of my life and have a healthy respect for weather. I pay attention to forecasts and have learned that Mother Nature knows how to show earthlings who is boss. But when meteorologists drone on and on, repeating warnings, and describing the meaning of bombogenesis multiple times, it can become deafening and boring. Writing descriptions, whether it be of setting, a character, or even the weather, when too long and repetitive, can cause the reader to scan and sometimes stop reading. Enough is enough is one of the hardest lessons a writer must learn.
Deliver what you promise.
People become exasperated when the forecasters are wrong. Instead of expressing gratitude that a hurricane has passed and gone out to sea, you hear comments about how inept the meteorologists were. “How wrong can they be?” “Well, that was a bust.” If you have suggested to the reader that something scary is going to happen, you’d better make good on your promise. Anticipation followed by a whimper is sure to disappoint and even anger your reader.
All sunshine gets old.
As a New Englander, I love the change in seasons. Each brings beauty and its own form of inconvenience. Without the contrast of a rainy day, endless sunshine loses its luster. Bad things need to happen in a story to interest a reader. The worse the weather gets, the more the reader engages.
Leave the boring parts out
I’m paraphrasing Elmore Leonard, who suggested leaving out the parts the reader skips. Weather can create mood, be predictive, and be a story in itself. My book, Tropical Depression, used the approach and landing of Hurricane Irma to do all three. But if including weather in your story serves no purpose, then leave it out.
What lessons have you learned from the weather?