The Weather in Writing

It’s a cold wet day here in Northern California. In truth, it has been cold and wet for the last week. Not a usual weather phenomenon in our area of Sacramento. The sun hasn’t been out for more than a few hours over the past seven days. Right now, there is a fog thick enough to cut and it is after noon.

Why is this important? Well, weather has a direct impact on how we feel and what we do. Yesterday my body hurt. I spent the majority of my day curled up under a blanket taking naps off and on. This behavior was due in part to the weather we have been receiving.

It is amazing how the weather impacts our reactions. The question I have is does it impact your writing? Does it impact the way your characters act?

Somewhere in the late sixties a study was commissioned which demonstrated to the world that more murders occurred in high heat areas and suicides were higher inside those areas with far less sunshine and heat.

The study boiled its results down to people get angry in the heat and depressed in the cold. They further linked it to the amount of daylight in their lives. This goes against the idea that Washington State is the home of more serial killers than any place in the country, but I believe the study does have merit. It certainly proves weather affects us.

So, should weather be a part of your story? It has always been a part of the Southern Gothic genre. The south is a place of heavy rains, hideous amount of humidity, and unrelenting heat. The weather is something that has to be a part of such stories since it invades everything a person does in the southern parts of our country. Especially the Deep South.

I think weather should be involved in several types of stories. Mystery stories and crime dramas should note the weather since their main protagonist is often out in it. No one sits in their car in the snow and enjoys it. Especially not for hours on end while the person they are staking out is inside a warm and cozy house.

Weather plays on us. It decides how we react to situations. If I am overly hot, I react out of anger. When I am cold, I am more subdued. When I am in the middle, I find myself to be a much more pleasant person. Do you?

I mean it, have you taken note of how you react when you are cold or hot or hungry? Those of us with the luxury of the internet at our disposal also have homes to live in and heaters or air conditioning. The way we live inside the United States has drastically changed over my lifetime. We adapt our internal weather to what we prefer. This was not something I had available as a child. In fact, most buildings in the early sixties did not have air conditioning. Summer was hot. Too damn hot if I am being honest. Yet it was a part of our everyday living. It affected what we did and how. Or when we did it.

My question is do we include such details in our stories? The answer I find is that we should only include what is necessary to advance the story. Is it important to tell your reader your main character is standing in the rain? How you tell them is as important as the act of rain itself. It brings the readers deeper into your story if they find themselves feeling the rain as they read inside their cozy homes.

I find this to be the ultimate test of a writer. If a writer can bring the weather into their stories and make you feel this weather as you read, then they have accomplished something few who write can.

I ask you this, are you ready to bring the weather into your stories?

I’m Ross, the Editor-in-Chief at The Pyrateheart Press and I’m out.

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