As I look at the snow today, and the past couple days, there’s a level of wonder in it. There’s vigor and a degree of joy when I see it, like I’m that small child that is grinning from ear to ear, waiting for mom and dad to get home from work so they can take me to the sledding hill. The terrifying sledding hill where every trip down was for life and limb. I’m not sure why we went off that jump made of ice, but it was fun watching my friend’s sled shatter under him.
Either way, there is a mood, a theme, an emotion behind the way the snow looks. But a week or so ago the snow looked gray. Everything around the snow looked as if the life had been sucked out of it. My heart was heavy, the clouds were thick, and all snow told me was this is a desolate, barren, lifeless land. As I reflected upon this, I thought about weather in writing.
It’s really amazing how the same weather altered just slightly can create a completely different feeling. Rain during a date becomes singing in the rain. Rain after the loss of a loved one reflects the inner glower of the character. Lightning can be exhilarating or terrifying. A sunny day can show a new beginning, a happy day, or the light could be pale and they’re at a funeral that just happened to be an ironically beautiful day.
When writing Kelst and Ayne, weather was a big deal for the first part of the book. The majority of their challenges for the first three chapters or so is man vs environment as they fight through the cold and heat of the seasons, still learning their new life. However, often times I find I don’t use weather to its maximum potential, unless it’s more or less a character in the story. Often times in a scene I don’t tell whether it’s sunny, it rarely rains, and snow only happens if I want to nearly kill someone. And sometimes if I want to kill them.
Reading other books, there are many that don’t mention weather. It’s like playing a video game where it doesn’t “matter.” It’s background, so no one bothers. Horror often does a great job talking about weather, especially H. P. Lovecraft when I’ve read his works. It emphasizes so much of the tension just through whether phenomenon.
Personally, I want to use weather a little more often. Perhaps for a while even create a check list. A bit ironic, I used “weather” the most to signify a place while inside a cave, as the absence of weather was so indicative of the mood at the time. The characters, being uprooted and out of sorts, in a foreign land that both welcomed and shunned refugees, were in a new, yet stagnant atmosphere and the lack of weather showed that. However, during the big chase scene where everything was tense, where was my blizzard? It may have made it over the top.
Anyway, this is as much for me as anyone else, don’t forget to use the weather. Don’t forget that sometimes it rains. Snow can be depressing or joyous. Utilize those little touches can really reach the reader and it makes the world more real, instead of a simple Hollywood cut out.