Weather: It's Fickle, and So Are You

I'm sure we've all made this mistake before, but it doesn't make it any less embarrassing when we're called out on it. One minute our characters are strolling down a lane of glorious golden twilight toward the setting sun, and the next moment ominous clouds are pressing their weighty bulk upon the characters' heads.


What? It was sunny just a minute ago.


Right. My bad.

I distinctly remember having my characters sitting down under the shade of a tree on a completely overcast day. I am sure the problem is linked directly to Disney movies: we like to unconsciously assume that the weather is linked to the moods of the characters or the various levels of urgency developing in the plot. But we simply can't do that. The weather is a character all its own, and you have to not only let it do its own thing, but you have to keep track of it too. Of course, you're perfectly allowed to make the weather do what you want to further the plot of your story. Would she have ever run into that cave and found the magic crystal if a thunderstorm had not broken right over the forest just then? Would he have thought to look in that high cupboard if a shaft of light had not come through the window and shone like the finger of an angel at it? But be careful you don't overdo it. It can't always rain when your character is gloomy, it can't always be gloriously bright when your character is merry. Bilbo himself pointed out that it isn't all hay-rides in May sunshine. Weather happens.

Know your weather patterns. What time of the year is it? What sort of climate is your story set in? You don't need to go as far as mapping out air currents if you would really rather not. I know I wouldn't. But make sure you are clear on seasons, weather-patterns, and temperatures. You can't have your characters suddenly beating against a drenching gale in the middle of a long dry summer, or seeing wildflowers in a field in the middle of December. And believe me, I've done this before. If you happen to enjoy writing British-type climates, the way I do, has an excellent and amusing page here on the weather throughout the year on the island. This will give you a narrower field on what to expect during any given month.

If you don't like Britain, you're on your own.

As far as any given day is concerned, you need to not only know the overarching patterns of weather throughout the year, as you write you need to keep track of what the weather is currently. In Between Earth and Sky I have a slight reprieve because the tribe in which Rede lives is coastal, and coastal weather is notoriously willful. If I want a sunny morning, I can get one - for about two hours - and then I can roll in a nice dense cloud-cover if I like. But regardless, I can't have Rede driving a chariot through sunny glades of blooming cherry and a page later be descending a hillside in which the heather is all blurred to lavender-grey by the shadows of the thick clouds. Pay attention to your weather. Realistically, weather happens totally regardless of the little petty joys and toils of mankind. We all understand this. Make sure your story understands it too.

That's all for today, folks. Happy scribbles!

2 ripostes:

  1. Snork. This made me laugh. ^.^

    I just watched your interview on "Your Carolina", and wanted to congratulate you (again!).

    Congratulations, I praise God for this wonderful gift He has given you. ^.^

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