Sunday, April 2, 2017

How’s the Weather?

What do you talk about when you can't think of anything to say? The weather, of course! Seriously though, weather has been on my mind a lot. Or affecting my mind.
While the calendar says spring arrived over a week ago, in interior Alaska, we still have snow. Like a lot of snow. Like you could lose a full-grown Labrador in the snow. But last week, the sun appeared and so did puddles, and I started to feel sunny inside too. Then the clouds came back.
After nearly nine years of living in Alaska and experiencing the extremes of sunshine-all-the-time and darkness-all-the-time, I’m beginning to see how the weather affects me. January and February are tough months if I don’t have plans to leave the state for warmer, sunnier climates. Last week, when the sun was shining, I felt happy and energetic. Then when the clouds returned, I felt lazy, listless, lethargic.
I’m so moving to Hawaii someday.
Anyway, what does this have to do with writing? In high school English, we talked about weather being used as symbolism. At the time, I thought that was dumb. The weather occurs regardless of how a person feels. It doesn’t rain when I’m sad or depressed. The sun doesn’t shine just because I’ve gotten good news. And to an extent, I still feel that way. The weather doesn’t mirror my emotions.
But from experience, I know weather does affect a person. When I’ve had bad news, a sunny day makes me angry. An overcast day zaps my energy and pulls me down, even if everything else in my life is happy and positive. And today, with the sun shining again (despite SNOW this morning!), I don’t feel the pull to lie around napping all day like I have every other cloudy day this week. 
So the weather should be considered in our characters’ lives. Besides the obvious—one doesn’t go cross country skiing on the river in the summer—how is weather impacting the plot? What would a scene look like on a rainy day versus a sunny day? What if the day were windy? Humid? Dry? And how is the weather impacting the character’s mood and behavior? Good news on a nasty-weather day? Bad news on a sunny, blue sky day? For a character who deals with stress by gardening or running might like bad news on a sunny day, and bad news on a stormy day for that same character could send her into a desperate situation if caught outside in the rain, thunder, and lightning. 

Obviously the weather isn’t a consideration in every scene, but give some thought to how the weather could add conflict to a scene or within a character, and have some fun considering the possibilities!

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