For Everything There Is a Season…

Turn, Turn, Turn.
When I begin plotting a new book, I decide on the time of year for it to take place – which is part of “setting.” Here are a few thoughts on seasoning your novel.


1. Your physical setting is a starting point, and if you don’t live there, do your research. Think it’s rainy in Seattle? It isn’t even one of the top 30 rainiest major US cities. London averages 109 rainy days a year, but in the rest of England, the average is 156 days/year. (156 is also the number of rainy days per year in Seattle.) This isn’t the amount of rainfall, it’s the number of days your protag will get wet. For Seattle, November is the rainiest month. For London, it’s January.
2. Seasons and the associated weather are great for micro-conflict. Think of walking for help in the snow. Or becoming dangerously dehydrated in the summer. In Atlanta, driving on black ice is terrifying.
3. I use pleasant weather to trick my readers. Or lull them into a false sense of all is right in the world. Look out.
4. Using all the senses is much more interesting and powerful than saying, “It was autumn.” Right? Dig deep for interesting descriptions. “Freshly mowed lawn” has been used about a million times. Ditto, “apple pie.” Where did these smells take your character? What does it make her imagine or remember?
5. Look for these clues when you travel and take notes. Stop and ask yourself, what do I hear, what do I feel, what do I smell.
6. What surprised you on your last vacation, or work trip? Photos on your phone will come in handy later. I promise. Here are a few from our recent trips we’ve taken.

Enjoy, and stay in touch,


  1. I find I automatically set my novels in whatever season it is when I start writing the novel. Sometimes it really fits, and sometimes the novel grows around whatever my feelings are about the current weather. But yeah, weather is really important!

  2. My novels have been moving through the season. Now I’m back in January of a new year. But I never specify the year–purposely. The ideas about setting are invaluable!

  3. Seasons are important even in a tropical setting where the changes can be more subtle or magnificently dramatic! See my Tropical Depression!

  4. Great pints, Lane. Weather plays such an important role. I’m always on the lookout for ways to weed out outdated or overused cliches in description.
    I chose the season depending on how much time has elapsed from the previous book. The new Trudy, Death in the Orchard, takes place just a few weeks after the last one so it’s still autumn, but the next Untitled Nora will jump from December to May.

  5. The weather, more than the season plays a role in the NYPD Detective Chiara Corelli mysteries.

    A Matter of Blood, the first in the series takes place in August/September and the heat is oppressive.

    Winter Weather is important in A Message in Blood, the third in the series. Corelli is back on the job too soon after being shot and is especially vulnerable to the winter winds, snow and sleet.

    The fifth Corelli, tentatively titled Blood of the Innocent, takes place in Spring.

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