What am I talking about? I’m talking about using weather in a story to help boost a mood in a scene. Tragedy accompanied by fog and gloom, horror to the tune of a thunderstorm, and an idyllic love interlude accompanied by sunshine and roses. Some people call it cliche, but I call it a device from our writing toolboxes that can be useful and fresh, depending on how you use it. (-: Perhaps the roses are overkill.
I very deliberately set a short story in February, just so I could take advantage of the weather. In the northern hemisphere, we start seeing the very first signs of spring – in my area, the ice begins to melt during the day, and pussy willows start to bloom. The earth is getting ready for new life, and my characters’ hearts were getting ready for a new season in their lives.
That said, almost every place I’ve lived, February is still the battleground for winter. I took advantage of a wild blizzard to do several things for my story.
First, it symbolized a cold and lonely past. Second, it started my plot: because a blizzard was coming, my heroine decided to take a chance on a “blizzard bae” scheme*. She was in the mood to take a chance on a romance with a stranger.
The blizzard was a major factor in my hero being forced off the road, and for him seeking help. He’s a frost god, but he’s still susceptible to cold, especially when his magic isn’t working properly.
And, since this is a romance, the raging storm gave them a good reason to spend their happy ending under a pile of comforters. This story couldn’t have been set during a spring thaw; it would have been completely different.
I think weather is probably going to play a larger part in fiction of the 21st century. We’re intensely aware of it – our media is full of stories of superstorms and record weather phenomenon. Even climate deniers can’t deny the feeling in the air that we are all impacted by Mother Nature. This zeitgeist promotes feelings of helplessness in the face of an overwhelming force, but it also sparks creativity – we humans as a species have survived every weather trend of the past million years or more, and I have to think that at least some of that survival comes from new, fresh ideas brought about by Mother Necessity facing off with Mother Nature.
So, go ahead. Let your pathetic fallacy rip. Unlike real weather, you can always scale it back if you’ve gone too far.
*What’s a blizzard bae? Well, the International Business Times link I wanted to provide was sticky and went directly to the homepage. In 2015, New Yorkers were posting to Craigslist in order to find a blizzard bae, AKA, a cuddle buddy. Please google it! The IBT post included fun tweets and all sorts of cultural information. Love has always been a little bit dangerous, but I like to think most people found a fun connection, and a few may have found a longer-term happy ending.