…or “This time, it’s personal.”
Today, it was 94 F. Last week, it was 64 F and I ran down to the basement multiple times in the middle of writing, cooking, cleaning, laundry, and/or driving somewhere with green clouds in my rearview mirror while thinking swear words and wondering if I’d at least get a nice pair of red shoes out of the whole deal. Given that we’re switching here from monsoon season to boiling all that water off the surface of the planet (and I was halfway done with my ark, too), it’s made me think about controlling the weather.
My favorite superhero has always been the X-Men’s Storm. Because she could control the weather. I realized that yes I, too, can control the weather. Not because I’m a mutant (my mutant-ness runs in other directions), but because I have that magical superpower of being The Author.
Now, if I could control the weather in the real world, I’d make it balmy and temperate every day, and it’d be the most boring, climate-controlled place you’ve ever seen. But in stories, all bets are off, nothing is sacred, and the weather has character. Snoopy’s perpetually unfinished novel begins (over and over) with “It was a dark and stormy night…” for a very good reason. Weather sets the mood. When used correctly, it drives the tone of the story or the scene.
A sunny day can diffuse the grief of a graveside eulogy, or underscore the tragedy. That dark and stormy night can wash away important clues in a crime scene…or reveal the hastily buried body. A long-term relationship can quietly end in bitter recriminations while dirty slush collects in a gutter, or with the cleansing catharsis of a summer rainstorm. A tornado can wreak havoc, but bring people together and remind us that we must be there for each other because there is no one outside “we.”
Weather is a driving force in our stories, whether we acknowledge it or not (see what I did there?). In our writer’s toolkits, using the weather to reflect the theme, tone, mood, and setting of the story enhances the reader’s experience. As a writer, drawing the most complete picture you can with words gives the reader the easiest road towards getting sucked into your story.
Links for “We”
American Red Cross: On the ground for the southern and midwestern tornadoes
Shelterbox: Disaster relief worldwide. Shelterbox provides a family who has lost everything with emergency shelter, household equipment, and survival supplies customized to the region’s needs, all packaged up in a useful, durable box.