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.

Wild Weather

The skies are gray and the wind is howling. Torrential rain/snow/sleet/hail is expected to fall. Trees might topple. Power lines will be downed. Roads will close.

But your character has to go somewhere. It could be to work, to the mall, to an appointment. What does she do? Does she cancel/call in/change plans? Sit at home with a cup of coffee and a good book? Or does she go outside and risk being caught in the storm?

Taking off work might not be an option. Many people do not get days off due to wild weather. They have to risk the elements or possibly lose their job. Is your character one of them?

Your task is to write a weather-related scene in which your protagonist is forced into making serious decisions. It would make a great story if the character goes outside and is subjected to the weather. Think of all the possible things that might happen! The list is endless.

Have fun with this one.

Weather Problems

No matter how much we would like it to be, skies are not always blue.

Clouds turn the world dark gray. Winds blow. Rain pours. Snow falls. Visibility drops and roads turn treacherous.

Your stories need to reflect real life.

Your task is to take a piece that you have written and add in the weather. Go beyond sunny days and clear blue skies.

Perhaps put your protagonist in a low-visibility situation where the roads are slippery. Think about how your protagonist would react.

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.

Consider Nature in Your Writing

Nature is a force that we cannot ignore in our stories. It can be kind and gentle, as when it brings storms that refresh the earth, allowing plants and trees to grow. It cleanses our air and turns the grasses green.

It can also bring tornadoes and hurricanes that cause destruction and take lives.

Mudslides sweep down hills, taking down buildings, bridges, roads and making it impossible for people to get through to safety.

Earthquakes bring down buildings, often trapping people and pets inside.  They destroy houses of rich and poor alike.

Trees fall when their root systems become weak. If we are lucky, they come down in forests and do no further damage. But they also fall on cars, killing passengers, and on houses, injuring sleeping children.

Droughts eat up the water, making it a precious commodity that has to be rationed. But not everyone saves water. Stories abound about the wealthy who ceaselessly water their green lawns while the poor look at dried brown grass and collect used water in buckets.

Your task is to write a story in which weather plays a part. You need to decide whether it’s a force for good or destruction. Whether someone gets hurt or not.

Be descriptive in your telling. Use the senses to allow your readers to be there, experiencing the same things that your characters go through. The reader needs to be able to feel the force of the wind, the sting of the rain, the shaking of the earth, the strength of the wind.

Have fun with this one.

Good luck.