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Friday, August 8, 2014


By Mary Adair

Weather can play an important part in a story.

Weather adds dimension to the strength and weakness of your characters. Weather can be a villain, it can be a catalyst for romance. It can be scary and filled with clouds and flying specters. It can be fun as a gentle breeze tosses about colorful kites or fearful as strong winds threaten to sink a boat.

Boat on stormy waves
purchased from Dreamstime

We are having unusual weather in Oklahoma for the month of August. Last year this time we were breaking a record for the number of days above 100 degrees. Today it actually feels cool outdoors. The day is overcast and feels a lot like fall. This unusual weather, of course, brought to mind when we first moved to Oklahoma and the surprising weather was not so pleasant.

In my YA novella, CAPTIVE SPIRITS, Alexis had to escape with her small daughter during a snowstorm. I drew my inspiration for this from the ice storm we suffered through shortly after we moved to Oklahoma.

Snowy woods near our home

This storm became one for the records. We were without electricity, as was everyone else in the area. We lived in a rural area with tall pines all around us. The ice was so heavy on the trees that many trees broke, causing a sound very much like gun fire. The blast was very scary.

House in the woods, but not ours
photo purchased from Dreamstime

Ice also caused our power line to break. Because we lived in such an out of the way, hard to get to location, our electricity was off almost a week longer than our neighbors’. For three weeks, we and our four Italian greyhounds and our very old tomcat huddled before our wood stove in an otherwise totally electric home.

Can you spot the bird in the tree?
We had plenty of canned food for people and pets and, because we left the water trickling, we had water. However, keeping a fire going was a challenge with all the wet wood around. It really made an impression on me just how fragile people and animals are in the face of weather.

During that very cold, icy winter I developed a new respect for the strength of nature and the fragility of life. I now love to toss my characters into the fray of nature’s multiple faces while I explore their strengths and force them to display their character. 


  1. I never thought of weather being such an important part of a story. There are so many facets to writing! I have the utmost respect for all authors! Thanks for feeding my habit of reading!

  2. I love using bad weather to bring out the best in my characters or to isolate the hero and heroine. Great post, Mary.

  3. Mary, I agree. Weather can play a huge role in a story. It is one of the best plot devices a writer can have. Fun post!

  4. Great post! The most I've ever done with weather in my books has been the seasonal norms. Pretty vanilla. But think about all the great stories with weather as a major catalyst, like Stephen King's Storm of the Century. Without that storm there would be no story.

    The recent Hurricane in Hawaii has inspired me to feature one in the sequel to my latest (unpublished) book that's set in Hawaii.

  5. Right now, my secondary heroine is slogging through a bad rainstorm. She's about to come down with a nasty cold. She's escaping from the villain (actually he's the secondary hero and her true love, but she doesn't realize it yet!) She's never been tested before and had to act on her own -- she's always had family to look out for her. I love how weather can provide a catalyst for change in a character. Thanks for your post, Mary!

  6. Great photos. I love using weather as a character. I went through a 3 day blizzard in the Dakotas many years ago, and that became the centerpiece of a novella I wrote--soon to be republished in expanded form as a book. I will never forget that kind of cold and driving snow. Brrr.


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