Write Anywhere # 3

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.

Wrought iron is preferable in the heat of summer, don't you think?

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?

Darcy Pattison discusses including the sensory details of weather in your novel here.

You can find a weather thesaurus in a series of posts on The Bookshelf Muse.

Roni Loren blogs about weather as symbolism here.

Elmore Leonard has a different take on weather in 10 Rules of Writing.

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? 

6 thoughts on “Write Anywhere # 3

  1. I’m one of those writers that focuses on dialogue and action. I normally write the first draft and only rarely include weather and other sensory details. Those come in re-writes. And they take LOTS of effort. They definitely don’t come as easily to me as I’d like. The passage you quoted by Willa Cather is beautiful. Unfortunately that will never be my style. Fortunately, there are readers for all of us. I think maybe you have a great idea there. I’m going to try to immerse myself for a few minutes in difference weather situations and write about the sensations in as many words as possible. Maybe that will help the words flow a little better. Great post, Kristin. Really made me think. 🙂


  2. Thanks for your comment, Rhonda. I love the Willa Cather style of weather as another character, but agree with you that it is difficult to accomplish. I wish I would have paid more attention to detail when I’ve experienced major weather events so I could possibly incorporate some of the sensory and emotional details into stories where they might fit. Unfortunately since I live in Tornado Alley I’m sure I’ll get more opportunities to take notes while hiding in the closet. 🙂


    • Actually I had to run several errands back and forth across town and each time I got out of the car it felt like a death ray targeting me! LOL Hey I stole your awesome word linkage, hope you don’t mind. Plagiarism is the highest form of flattery. 😉


  3. Both funny and thought provoking, Kristin. I think weather should only be used as it relates to the story. The hurricane in A Perfect Storm obviously relates. But it can also work if, for example the weather is one more nail in the coffin of someone’s day.


    • But it can also work if, for example the weather is one more nail in the coffin of someone’s day.
      I like your definition. Currently analyzing the film ‘Cold Mountain’ and the weather is used for that very purpose. For example, the stark loneliness and desperation Ada feels after her father dies and she’s heard nothing from Inman is matched with the bitter cold and winter snow. The bright sun and humid weather correlated with their passionate kiss goodbye as he marches off to war. Inman sinking in the mud and muck of the unrelenting rain underscores his depression at being stuck in what he feels is wasted battle after battle. I think you would have to tone down the weather in a book versus a film, though. Guess I’m going to have to read the book now to find out whether that’s true for this story, LOL Thanks for the comment.


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