Tag: snow


Cold Winds Blow

 They (the mysterious “they” who is always telling you what you should or shouldn’t do) say you shouldn’t write about the weather. I’m ignoring that advice. Weather impacts our moods in real life. A warm, sunny Spring day brings smiles to our faces. A cold, gray, wet winter’s day induces groans and sadness. The heavy, humid air just before a thunderstorm makes us tense and uneasy. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a clinical condition where cold, dark weather brings on depression often severe enough to warrant treatment. And weather certainly presents obstacles we must overcome. Floods, tornadoes, hurricanes, high winds, hail, snow—all as potentially dangerous as an armed intruder or an angry ex. Weather can, and should, act in fiction they same way it acts in real life. “It’s a dark and stormy night” may not be the world’s best opening sentence but weather can be used to significant effect in stories. Weather can set tone, provide foreshadowing, or reflect characters’ moods. “The Fall of the House of Usher” wouldn’t read the same if set on a warm and sunny day. Charlotte Bronte uses weather to foreshadow Jane Eyre’s experiences and as a metaphor for her moods and emotions. Weather can also be a character. From torrential rains to blizzards to tornadoes, weather events play the role of antagonist in “man versus nature” stories. Make a bad situation—being chased by a man with a gun—worse for the protagonist by adding some weather—being chased by a man with a gun in fog as thick as cotton batting. What’s your favorite literary weather disaster? What kind of weather event would you throw in your protagonist’s path? Comment here or blow on over to Facebook to join the discussion. 

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Winter Storm

 Winter’s got me in a slump. Short days, long nights. Subzero temperatures. Ice storms that shut down cities. Layers and layers, so many layers, of clothing. Enough, already. Bring on Spring.
Writing’s tough for me when I’ve got the winter doldrums. My brain wants to hibernate from November through mid-March, not devise intricate plots and perilous situations for my characters to overcome. Winter is my antagonist.
Which makes me think—can the season or the weather act as a character in a story? I answer my own question—sure. Person versus nature is as classic a battle as person versus person or person versus self. In Murder on the Orient Express, winter weather stops the train. Snow is as much the bad guy as the killer. Snow makes another appearance as an opposing force in J. Jefferson Farjeon’s Mystery in White. The title of Julia Spencer-Fleming’s In the Bleak Midwinter leaves no doubt the season plays a role in the plot. Peter Hoeg’s Smila’s Sense of Snow hinges on the protagonist’s knowledge of the frigid stuff.
Writing this, I notice novels featuring winter-as-opposing-force come to mind more readily than novels where spring, summer, or fall weather drive the plot. Probably because, to me, weather is the most malevolent of all seasons. But I can imagine situations where a spring thunderstorm or summer drought might figure as integral parts of a story. Fall’s harder. A body in a leaf pile, maybe? What are some other stories where the weather is the star?  Comment here or start a discussion on Facebook.

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