Sweltering Conditions

            Summer is upon us and temperatures are rising. Lucky people have air-conditioning or can seek shelter in a cooling spot. However, not everyone is blessed with ways to cool off.

            Free-standing fans provide limited relief if a person sits right in front of it, but do little for a family of four. Or for a classroom full of steaming children or a church filled with parishioners.

            Imagine the stories that arise from being overheated. Fights break out because tempers rise. Tears are shed. Clothing is stripped off. Hoses spray cooling water, but not when there is a drought. People might take a drive if their car’s air works or go stroll through a nearby shopping mall.

            These are all temporary solutions. What happens when the electricity goes out or people have to return to the overheated offices, classrooms and homes?

            Your task is to write a scene in which the heat is overwhelming. Begin with the setting. Are your characters on the road, at work or at home? How do they cool off? How does the heat impact relationships?

            Use a combination of narrative and dialogue, remembering that tensions are going to arise. There might be angry words tossed about or actual fisticuffs.

            Have fun with this one.

Seasonal Effects

Close your eyes and picture a typical spring day where you live. What is the weather like? How do you feel? What things do you see, feel, touch? What foods do you typically eat? Where do you go only in the spring?

Write this down.

Move on to summer. What things do you only do in the summer? Record how you feel, think, what you see, taste, touch.

Do the same for autumn and winter.

Looking over your list, do you see a pattern?

Your task is to create a comparable list for your character. It makes no difference the genre of your writing. What matters is that your listings be accurate for the place and time of your work.

Once the list is complete, choose the season you feel most comfortable writing about. Place your character in the story with at least one other person. Turn on the action. Make sure to include those details that impact your character the most.

When you are finished, reread looking for sensory details. Make sure that you did not list them, but rather revealed them slowly, one at a time.

Have fun with this one.

The Impact of Weather

I am lucky enough to live in the San Francisco Bay Area where the weather is mild. We think it’s cold if it gets down into the 50s and hot in the 80s. It doesn’t snow here, but occasionally we get sleet or hail. Then we stared, gaped jawed, in amazement.

We don’t have tornadoes or hurricanes either. We can get torrential rain that lasts for a few days and the fog comes in over the Golden Gate Bridge, cooling our nights.

However, people here do stupid stuff when weather impacts driving safety. They’ll drive at 70 mph even though rain splashing off the roadway restricts visibility or when the fog is low to the ground, making it impossible to see more than a few feet in front of the car.

They’ll go out in the morning without first checking the weather, so might be caught unaware by cool temps and rain.

It’s not unusual to see vacationers, who thinking SF in the summer will be warm, scrambling to buy sweatshirts and jackets.

Imagine if your character went out in a rainstorm or was foolish enough to walk the beach as a hurricane approached. What might this reveal about your character?

Would the reader consider her foolish or brave?

What if she failed to bring her pets inside when a massive snow storm was approaching? Again, what does that reveal about her and her feelings for animals?

Your task is to create the bio for your character. First of all, taking into consideration where the story takes place, what weather events are likely to occur there. Make a list.

Next to teach item record how your character could react. Don’t just think of logical outcomes, but the illogical as well. Remember that doing stupid things often makes for a more interesting story line!

After you’ve created your list, choose the one event that you feel most comfortable writing. Include sensory perceptions and reactions. Don’t leave out important details that describe not only the weather, but how your character behaves.

Have fun with this one.

Weather Affects Story

This morning when I got up, a dense fog obliterated my view of the house across the street. If I had driven somewhere, it would have been perilous.

The fog reminded me that our characters’ lives are affected by weather. Some of them might live where it snows. They have to shovel their driveways clear, brush snow off their windshields and drive on slippery roads.

Other characters might live where there are torrential rains, tornadoes or hurricanes. Coming home from a shopping trip, their car might get swept away by roiling water or a tree limb might fall and crush the front end. A tornado might destroy houses and hurricanes might wash away miles of beach.

Huge waves batter the coast, causing cliffs to crumble and buildings to teeter preciously.

When we write, we need to take into consideration the elements of weather, which are determined by where our characters live.

My stories are always set in the west, in a place where it does not snow and our biggest potential disaster is an earthquake. Our temperatures are mild, our evenings usually comfortable as long as the fog comes in.

What about your stories? Reread one of your pieces, looking for places where descriptions of weather can influence behavior, actions, and even thoughts. Rewrite elements to add in how your character reacts to what goes on around him, what he thinks and how he feels.

When you are finished, reread again. Is your story richer? It should be. Because of these details, your readers will have a better image of where the story takes place.

Have fun with this one.