Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Writing About Weather

When Art and Weather Coincide
The other day I was writing on my WIP/work in progress, and even though it was summer in the novel, I had a scene where it was raining. (Yes, since my novel is set in Oregon, that's perfectly normal for summer weather.) And coincidentally as I was writing, it was raining outside. Perfect mood setter! I could directly check out sounds, feelings, smells, and other perceptions.

…And When They Collide
On the other hand, one summer I remember it being meltingly hot in my office, and I had to write a scene where my character was scurrying along a road feeling really cold. I've also experienced when it's been winter and I've had to write a scene where summer sweat is dripping off my main character. Those things really stretched my imagination! It's almost like your body has to be in a different place than your mind. Aren't writers wonderfully versatile?

If you're writing an opposite (or regular) scene, here are some suggestions for doing so:

Ideas/Aids for Writing Weather
1. Dredge your memories for when you really were in similar weather as your scene: pouring rain, freezing cold, blistering heat. How did you feel? What did it smell like? Taste like, look like? Sound like?
2. Do a websearch for "free nature sounds" and connect with your scene's weather sounds. It will often put you in a mood or frame of mind that is conducive to your scene--and may give you exact sounds to describe. Check out the site called Calmsound, for instance, HERE. There are free snippets plus entire nature CDs to purchase (such as Nature Sounds) that include a country garden, the seaside, a desert at night, etc.  
3. Connect with mood-related music to give you ideas and set your atmosphere. For instance, are you writing a storm scene? Try dramatic music with cymbals and drums, like classical music or a movie soundtrack. Are you writing a beautiful sunset? Try slow, melodic flute music or violin music.
4. Read other novels or writings to see how other authors have handled a similar weather setting. The idea isn't to copy them, of course, but to see how they've described the subject. Can you see/feel/sense the scene in a very real way? Study their methods and apply.

YOUR TURN
Have you ever tried to write a scene where the weather was OPPOSITE?
Have you ever written a scene where it was stormy weather--just like in real life?
Do you ever listen to nature sounds (or music) to heighten the writing of a setting or scene?

Photo taken by myself at Yaquina Bay, Oregon coast, 2009.

30 comments:

  1. Oh yes, I've written lots of weather scenes. In fact my characters in my current wip are in a very hot place while it's still winter where I am. I just send my mind back to a day that had the weather I'm looking for :)

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  2. I don't know. Since I'm writing mostly food these days, I haven't had the need to write about weather.

    Cheers and boogie boogie.

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  3. Great tips here, Carol.

    Yes, I'm actually writing in a thunderstorm in my WIP. The storm plays on the mood of my heroine's heart.

    Over Christmas, I had to write a hot summer day, the heat through my boots...type of thing. That's when memories come in handy.

    Great post!

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  4. If you have a really good imagination, you can feel the cold even when it's sweltering in the summer!

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  5. Oh yeah, I've tried all of those. Sometimes just reading a book or watching a movie with a consistent weather will put me in that weather-mood regardless of what reality is. Once I immerse myself in a setting I totally feel it.

    Flashbacks work as well for me as they do for my characters.

    ........dhole

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  6. Thanks for a great post and very good advice! When I feel cold, I don't like to read about people swimming-so we visualise and feel the atmosphere while reading.

    Nas

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  7. I love the phrase "dredge your memory" -- awesome! Lovely post, Carol!

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  8. I love the idea of listening to nature sounds. I think that, along with some pictures of the season, would be really helpful!

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  9. I find that I tend to set most of my books in the fall, just because that's my favorite season. When it really is fall (because it always takes me over a year to write a book), I try to make sure to add lots of setting descriptions at that time. I love your idea of listening to nature sounds - I hadn't thought of that before.

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  10. I love your idea of the nature sounds. Clever!! I'm always having to write the opposite weather to reality. Maybe I love a challenge? ;)

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  11. Great tips, Carol!
    I've also tried writing a scene or some description as soon as I see weather happening - last time was during our fierce snowstorm last month!

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  12. Yes, and it's hard to do that when you're sweating through a scene with snow! LOL

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  13. I've never listened to nature sounds but that is a brilliant idea! I usually try to shut out what the actual weather is and write whatever is called for :)

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  14. Of all your tips, I like the nature sounds idea the best.

    Yes, I have written for opposite weather. I'm write a story that takes place in sticky summer while we're cold and snowy here. It's nice to dream...

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  15. I don't think I ever thought about it, but now that you've mentioned it, I'm going to have to test it!

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  16. I generally look up pictures. Like dark, heavy clouds with lightning if I need to write a stormy scene and the sun is shining outside my window :-) I've never thought of listening to nature sounds... That must really help!

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  17. That is one reason I love reading works by the Bronte authors in those times I guess authors relied heavily upon their physical environment when writing so for example when I read Jane Eyre the weather played a significant part in the plot many times it symbolized the feelings of the protagonist. I am still defining my writers voice but what I know thus far is that emotions and the environment are always themes I utilize in my style of writing.

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  18. LOVE the free nature sounds advice. I've never heard of that! Yes, I've had to write opposite nature reactions, and I had to close my eyes and remember. When it's winter and I'm writing about summer, I sure do yearn for warm days!

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  19. I think it's really tough to write about weather that's opposite. But I love your idea of listening to "free nature sounds"!

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  20. Ah beautiful Oregon!

    I listen to Naturespace on my iPhone. It's holographic sound and it has everything you could need. I use it with noise canceling headphones while I"m writing and shut out the rest of the world!

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  21. Some great tips Carol. I love to study how weather is written when I read, I often reread those paragraphs. Nothing beats life experience though and memory. xx

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  22. What fabulous ideas, Carol! I try to keep a journal of noises and feelings I have during wild weather. It really helps to look over my notes when I use "high winds" in a scene and I've journaled about a wind storm.

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  23. I haven't listened to weather music, but that's a great idea! Weather was part of the reason why I set my debut novel in MI vs FL so I'd have the changing seasons to fit my MC's feelings. So glad I visited your blog today:-)

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  24. Reading other novels is one of my favorite tricks, but I never considered listening to nature sounds. Thank you for this! And for the link to Calmsounds!

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  25. I usually write stories at the time of year they happen - just seems to work out that way. When I do want to write scenes set in other seasons I recall events which have happened at the appropriate time, or during the required conditions and add in a few details from my memory.

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  26. Great tips! I've definitely written scenes where the weather was opposite to the tone of the storyline.
    Nutschell
    www.thewritingnut.com

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  27. Two of my WIPs have plenty of rain and I wrote the drafts in the summer, when it rains a lot where I am. I've also written the opposite. It's interesting. I have to focus and recall all the little things.

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  28. Hi, Carol,
    The idea of using free nature sounds is one I wouldn't have thought of. Usually, I imagine what it would be like to be in the kind of weather I'm trying to write about.

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  29. I think we're on the same wavelength--I just posted about weather in writing too!

    Listening to weather sounds is a great way to get into the mood. I love Rainy Mood. com!

    Angela

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  30. Weather can be a great mood and atmosphere setting. It's raining on the dry side today. Sort of. It spit for a bit, then stopped. It'll probably turn to snow later.

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