Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Fall Isn't Here Yet

I’m in Texas and fall isn’t here yet. We’re still hitting 90 plus degrees every day. And that seems odd to someone like me who grew up in snow country and has lived in places with snow most of my life. I’m not complaining—just noticing the difference.

It got me thinking that as writers, we can use the differences in climate in our stories. Do you have a character who is in a new place, one where the seasons are very different from what he or she is used to? How does your character react? Do they embrace the change or wish for what they know best?

Using details like this can reveal a great deal about the personality of your character(s) as well as ground the reader in the setting of your story. They also help to make your characters seem more 3 dimensional.

Suppose your character has always lived in this place. Is the weather unusual or is it the norm? Are you careful to let your readers (who might live in very different circumstances) know what the norm is—especially if it might be different than what many or most of your readers might be used to?

Weather isn’t always relevant and I’m definitely NOT suggesting putting in these kinds of details just because you think you should or to boost your word count but...having lived in and traveled to many places I’ve noticed that both weather and terrain can impact the attitudes and behavior patterns of the people who live there. Knowing and using this, where appropriate, can help make your story come more alive.

I love the diversity of weather in the different places I’ve lived. Mind you, I don’t think I want to go back to really cold, snowy winters, but I’m glad I had the experience at some point in my life.

Maybe it’s useful to you and maybe not but it’s worth considering whether weather has any impact on the characters in your stories.

3 comments:

Cindy said...

April, I'm new at novel writing and am in the process of 'rewriting' -- my problem has been keeping the seasons consistent -- I've got women wearing sun dresses in October--and they're in Massachusetts not Texas! So my editor suggested a story board ...and it's just what I needed, albeit a lot of work-- Thanks for affirming that including that sense of place adds to the story--

Sylvia Dickey Smith said...

Neat discussion, April and Cindy. Yes, weather and clothes play very important roles in our books, I think. For they reveal much about the character and the setting. For instance, a homeless person may wear every stitch of clothes they own, in 100 degree Texas summer heat, while walking around town--fearful if they left them behind someone might steal them.

And it would be difficult for me to write a scene in Minnesota cold--because I've never experienced that kind of cold. I'd have to do lots of research!

April said...

Cindy, LOL! I'm relatively new here and already I find myself forgetting how different the weather can be other places so I have to stop and remind myself.

Sylvia, Very good point about the homeless person! These are the kinds of details, too, that help a story come alive.