Archive for July 27th, 2008

Jul 27 2008

Writing Tip of the Day: Don’t Spend Too Much Time on Weather

Published by under Writing Articles

I provide advice about how to write novels, comic books and graphic novels. Most of my content applies to fiction-writing in general, but I also provide articles specifically about superhero stories.

Describing the weather sometimes helps develop the story’s mood and can emotionally affect the audience. However, I have a few main problems with the weather.

1. Authors tend to spend too much describing the weather independent of the characters. I recommend showing the characters interacting with the weather, ideally either raising the stakes or developing the character. If you’re writing a chase scene in the rain, one character might slip in a puddle as he’s trying to get away or struggle through the winds. Your protagonist’s wedding might be moved inside if it starts hailing, but if he’s stubborn enough maybe he’d refuse to move it.

2. Mentioning the weather in the first sentence of a book is rarely effective (“it was a dark and stormy night”). Your opening sentence has to convince readers to keep going and it’s difficult to imagine weather doing that. If you’d like to mention the weather anyway, I’d recommend using it to develop the lead character. For example, your opening sentence might be something like “Private Perkins hated the rain.” That’s not a great opening, but it uses the rain to faintly suggest that Perkins is unhappy because his life is boring and dour.

3. Please use weather in unexpected ways. Publishers have seen a lot of manuscripts that use dark storms to feel foreboding, or light-and-sunny weather to feel cheerful, or rain to feel sad and moody.  When the guy finally gets the girl, why does it have to be sunny?  I think it would be more dramatic if they passionately embraced in a light hail, myself.

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