How much does the weather feature in your stories?

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Tim James

Mar 16, 2018
Berkshire, UK
Looking, as I type, at the snow coming down outside my window, thick and heavy now although it isn't actually settling yet, I wonder how many of you include weather in your books?
Just a little or a lot?
Do you go for wild dramatic weather descriptions, or merely pay it lip service?
Does it ever feature in your plot as a plot device?
Do you use it to create atmosphere or drama?
I frequently refer to the weather in my Cornish Detective novels, as it has such an effect on the investigations. The Perfect Murderer was set in one of the wettest winters on record, so the wind and rain became another character. The plot involved tracking down a serial killer who was expert at camouflage and living rough in the wilds, as he was a trained sniper who'd been a soldier from boyhood, fighting in the Croatian War of Independence.

The heavy rain destroyed forensic evidence, and to capture the killer my detective protagonist brought in a bloodhound—which have phenomenal powers of smell. The final pursuit took place in pouring rain on a windy night.

I also use weather to symbolically represent the state of mind of my protagonist, who's suffered with depression. My WIP starts in late spring, with lighter evenings, colourful flowers, breeding birds and increasing warmth mirroring how much more optimistic my detective is now feeling.

It's not only the weather that becomes a character in my stories, for the landscape and the natural world also influence the action.
Writers have often used weather to enhance the mood of their characters; dull heavy clouds over the head of someone grappling with indecision or worry, rain washing away tears, etc. But some of these images can sometimes verge on being cliché.
How about juxtaposing it. Have a character mentally cursing a perfect summer's day for being so bright and sunny when they are miserable and sad. Or conversely a hopelessly in love character totally oblivious to being drenched to the bone by a sudden shower (although that one was done comically in Four Weddings).
One of my stories had the weather change just before a major turning point in the plot, sort of like a pre-warning. Do it subtly and it can be very effective.
Hey Tim,
OperaDivaAlix here :)
I use the weather to anticipate things to come before they happen.
As they say look up, look down and then all around regarding world building and the best way is to it though your characters eyes.
which is a tricky thing to balance in fantasy without making it to apparent.
Weather is part of the world we live in and, like the landscape is useful for creating a sense of place but I don’t tend to dwell on it. I fully agree that that it can become cliched - the climax or the story coinciding with a thunderstorm for instance.

I like what @Paul Whybrow says about the weather and landscape becoming a character in its own right - that’s a really good way of looking at it. And having the rain washing away the forensic evidence is a very good example of this :)
I'm suddenly reminded of a poem I was taught as a child.

"Whether the weather be fine, or whether the weather be not.
Whether the weather be cold, or whether the weather be hot.
We'll weather the weather, whatever the weather.
Whether we like it or not."
And like the weather the season in which you set the story can be used effectively to create a mood. A story set in winter will have a very different feel from the same story set in summer. And of course the season will inform the weather :)
I don't like weather for weather's sake. I prefer there to be a reason for most description. Otherwise, I get bored reading it and also writing it. This especially applies to weather. But I will use the weather for stuff occasionally. Weather means something in my own life I assume it means something to others and how a character thinks about that weather says something about them, who they are as well as how they might feel about their current circumstances.
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Reality Check Trends in MG and YA at Bologna

Who Do You Write Like?