Is the Weather Important in a Story?

Yes indeed, I said it. It’s hot here in Sacramento. I mean triple digits for days on end. We get excited when the forecast shows 98 or even 95. It is an unrelenting heat.

We get maybe from 3 a.m. to 8 a.m. where the weather is tolerable. After that the house just sucks up heat and the electric bill almost doubles because of the air conditioners.

I shouldn’t complain. It has been this way for over a month now. You would think I would get used to it but for some reason this year I simply can’t. I don’t know why, perhaps it has to do with my age. All I know is it takes me forever to lose the heat built up in my body.

This is all new to me. I have worked outside, rain or shine, hot or cold, since I was a kid. I enjoyed it quite frankly. I looked forward to the changes in the weather and how it felt to me. I of course preferred Fall to all the other seasons, but each has held a unique place in my heart. Except for summers in Sacramento.

The weather changes a person. The greatest invention in the twentieth century was the air conditioner. It allowed those in the South and the Southwest to work where they normally couldn’t.

I remember as a kid going to D.C. (Washington D.C. for those who call it the District.) We often had to visit the fabled halls of bureaucracy to do business. In the sixties air conditioning wasn’t a standard issue thing for those fabled halls of bureaucracy who weren’t in the upper echelons of society.

D.C. was hot and often possessed humidity levels higher than Guam. It felt like you were breathing air through a hot wet wool blanket. People were nasty at you because their tempers were short due to the heat. They tried to be courteous but all it took was a single spark to set tempers flying.

Heat exists all around the world and each culture has created a means to deal with it. Cold beer anyone?  All this leads me to think about the backgrounds in a lot of good reads. Many authors use location and weather to set moods. Here in Sacramento right now if you aren’t under a cold air device or swamp cooler, your mood is not so great.

But what about L.A.? Are people’s moods different because they are in Los Angeles? Or let’s take Southern Arizona. Let’s face it, Southern Arizona is miserable hot. It can be a hundred degrees at two o’clock in the morning there.

Or how about Southern Louisiana where heat and humidity possess a certain reputation. How would you write such background effects into a story? The American Gothic style uses location and weather as a veritable tool to set the tone of the story and the moods of its characters.

I wonder if you agree. Do you think weather and location are important features of a story or are minor blips a writer can overlook in their plot? I think it comes down to the type of story.

One other question. If your story only happens inside a building or a home, does the weather really matter?

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

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