Today I decided I needed some sun. I’m not much of an outdoors person, preferring the fresh breezes of air conditioning, unless there’s a beach close at hand. When I’m feeling blue I know catching some rays will get me in a serotonin frame of mind, and since the rest of the family was otherwise occupied, sun and writing sounded good.
Write Anywhere #3: Backyard
Pen, Notebook and I took along a nice glass of ice water and headed to the backyard. Our patio cover blocks the sun, so in order to get my vitamin D quota, I moved our patio table and chair into the grass.
I settled in and began writing. The sun bathed my skin with that relaxing toasty feeling…for about 37 seconds. I broke out in a sweat, and the ice in my glass disappeared in about two minutes. Toasting turned to frying. My focus was the heat, so out came words like: scorch, burn, arid, melt, wasteland, nuclear, etc. Am I really that much of a wuss when it comes to warm temps? I took some time to brainstorm weather ideas for my WIP, since a large portion of the story takes place in summer. Why waste a good sensory session? After enduring the Martian-like atmosphere known as summer in Oklahoma for an ENTIRE ten minutes I scuttled back into the cool of the house. A check of the weather report led me to conclude I wasn’t that much of a weakling. Current temp: 99 degrees, heat index of 106. “Dangerous heat index. Outdoor exposure should be limited.” Impeccable timing.
Seasonal weather is a big part of our lives. It can change a mood, a daily schedule, a hairstyle, even an entire life. Should weather play a big part in fiction writing?
Weather can be dramatic, like a tornado or a blizzard, or it can be subtle, like the change of seasons. A passage from one of my favorite books ‘My Antonia’ by Willa Cather is a good example:
“Soon we could see the broken, grassy lay cliffs which indicated the windings of the stream, and the glittering tops of the cottonwoods and ash trees that grew down in the ravine. Some of the cottonwoods had already turned, and the yellow leaves and shining white bark made them look like the gold and silver trees in fairy tales.”
Weather can also be the antagonist of a man versus nature story, as in the cold of Jack London’s ‘To Build A Fire’ or the hurricane of Sebastian Junger’s ‘The Perfect Storm’.
Looking for some weather writing linkage?
You can find a weather thesaurus in a series of posts on The Bookshelf Muse.
Read this beautiful post about a writer’s reaction to the recent Joplin tornado disaster.
I think I’ll avoid the heat warning days and write inside for a while; I wouldn’t want the ink to melt off my pages. 😉
Question: Is weather important to setting or should it be a minor focus? Have you included any weather-related scenes in your novel or current WIP?