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Saturday, October 22, 2016

weather as a character in a book

While we are having a blustery fall with rain, wind and thunderstorms, weather is on my mind. One night we were awakened with a thundering roar of thunder right over our house-- which in Tucson would be more usual, but here, not so much.

Weather is something I add to my stories-- not just blizzards that create a disaster, but ordinary weather that is part of daily life. A dark foggy day for winter can suit a character who is going through a bad time. A light rain, misting, fog, even a gentle breeze adds reality to a scene.

While weather impacts all our lives, it is even more important for characters in agriculture. A windstorm isn't just significant for a chance to stay inside and build a fire in the fireplace but also what it will do to fences, the wildlife, to the livestock that might be caught out in it. Big storms bring predators closer to ranch buildings.

To use weather requires either having lived or spent a lot of time in the setting of the book or research
to see what kinds of weather is most likely in what seasons. This can involve, with historicals, checking out the moon cycles as full moons have their own impact on weather. Good information can be found in old newspapers, which are in archives online to get an idea of what they were dealing with in say 1883. Was that the year of a drought? An unusually cold winter? A windstorm that hit historic proportions?

Even when it's a contemporary, I look for the possibility of big things going on during the time my stories are set. If a huge storm was coming through, it can become part of the plot. After a storm sometimes comes a great sunset.

What do you smell on the air after a storm? How does the sky look ahead of it? How does the breeze feel on your skin-- rain drops? All are tiny details, but so important to make the scene come to life.

How my characters feel about the weather adds another element to their personalities. If she hates a big wind, is there a reason? When she loves a season-- why was that? When he doesn't look forward to winter it says something especially if he's a rancher, and he knows winter means not only more work but potential risk to the livestock.

Loving weather as I do in books I buy or read, I also love to capture it in photographs. These can be used for inspiration as well as reminders. The hardest one for me to capture has always been rain, the sound of which I love, also the feel of it going for walk, but capturing it in a photo so far hasn't happened. I haven't given up trying-- recently there has been plenty of opportunity.


  1. Beautiful photos! I agree that weather adds so much to a scene. The way a character reacts to a thunderstorm, for example, can tell a lot about the person. Are they afraid? Do they love the drama of thunder and lightning? Thank you for the reminder to add weather to what I'm writing.

  2. That is so true about thunderstorms, Sandra-- also where we are when they hit.

  3. I often use weather as a character in my books. I just finished a novella that includes a snowstorm. Loved your photos, too, Rain.

  4. I sometimes have to remind myself when I am doing the first edit to be sure I have it as I can get so busy with having them do this or that and I don't have the weather. I love it in the books I read by others as it makes it so real

  5. I enjoyed your post and pictures. Weather seems to add so much color to a story scene.

    1. I agree, Judy. It can take some research also for the times a story is placed where the writer hasn't lived or been.

  6. I saw the harvest moon a few days ago. Surprised me with how big it was and I was instantly inspired to write a scene with a harvest moon and a hunter's moon in it. Like one of the characters.

  7. My brother farms. We often have long conversations about weather. To the uninformed that would seem boring and mundane, but to a farmer, weather is of the utmost importance.


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