Mistakes To Avoid When Writing About Weather
I recently made the huge realisation that my book is set in a climate-less pretend city, which looks similar to London, but actually enjoys 365 days of temperate, not-worth-writing-about weather.
It’s not my best move.
So to fix it, I’ve set to work at adding some more depth and believability to proceedings by ‘weathering’ it up. (I’ve extolled the virtues of weather and how it can turn a good book into an awesomely believable and rich one here.)
Shockingly, it’s proved to be a pretty difficult task as I tread the line of adding some weather versus all the weather to my story.
Here are some of the top tips I’ve come across so far to help when writing about weather. Lemme know if there’s any I need to add to the list.
Weather doesn’t need to be in every scene
As much as I’m banging on about how weather can be important to your plot or your character’s world, the cloudy sky shouldn’t actually detract from the plot. You don’t want to write one of those books where we get an update every chapter on the exact grey of the sky or what coat the protagonist is putting on whenever they walk to the shops. Notable exceptions: when things like a storm, a desert or an icy mountain pass are being crossed and actually become essential to the story and we actually need to know about them.
Do more showing, less telling
Whilst it’s fine to say that it’s a ‘cold, windy morning’, it’s better and much less tedious to weave it into your story. Like Mr Orwell does in the first few lines of Nineteen Eighty-Four: “… Winston Smith, his chin nuzzled into his breast in an effort to escape the vile wind, slipped quickly through the glass doors …”
Avoid weather clichés
It’s not just things like ‘raining cats and dogs’ or an ‘ominous sky’, try and avoid any obvious and overused tropes like the couple breaking up whilst a storm rages on, or thunder just as something scary is about to happen.
Use seasons to help explain the passage of time
Is your book set over one summer, does it span a few years? Including nods to the different seasons is a great way to move the plot forward and show the passage of time without outright saying it.
Just make sure things are consistent
I’m sure this is pretty obvious to every other writer, but on a recent read through of my book I realised my characters were walking around on a perfectly light evening – in the middle of winter. I’ve had to edit things like that, since in reality things are pitch-black here by 5pm.