The Weather Outside is Frightful: Writing Weather

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Where I am in my story, weather doesn’t play a huge factor. I use phrases like “biting cold,” “oppressive humidity,” and “sunny” to get an atmosphere going. After this weekend’s Winter Storm Jonas, it gave me fuel for thought as my characters do more traveling as the tale goes. Here are some tips for navigating the weather of your realm.

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IN MY TOWN of New York City, the storm got so bad, there was a travel ban placed on the city. This happened for reasons of personal safety and to allow municipal services to get the accumulated snow off the roads. People rush to the grocery store to stock up on staples like bread and milk before the stores run out. Others buy crates and crates of wine bottles to pass the time while they’re snowed in. Many shops and cafes close early to let their employees go home. Writers, authors, and agents are tweeting out their snow day reads.

All these slices of snow storm life can make for excellent opportunities to develop cultures and characters. Like I said, I haven’t had a really bad storm be a plot point, but in terms of ideas and things to consider. Unless your characters don’t leave the house and subsist on staples, this prompts them into action. I’m not sure storms can happen in a plot vacuum, so these are great opportunities to fill a story with some progression, even if the blizzard is a one-off event.


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MAYBE YOUR character is heroic. They hear their friend or their cult is in danger and then they dash out the door into the storm. Well, one of the things they tell you during a blizzard to stay inside. There’s multiple reasons for this, mainly that safety is important. Even in a video game like Skyrim or the portions of A Song of Ice and Fire that take place in the North, the snow has already fallen. Characters rarely ever are seen huddling in a tent waiting for it to all pass. This also breaks the suspension of disbelief required to make Day After Tomorrow believable, but let’s not waste too much time dwelling on bad movies.

All I’m saying is, please, make your characters smart. Especially in a weather-related situation. Nothing frustrates me more than someone braving crazy winds and large snow drifts for something that might be able to wait another day or two. But, what if they get caught in a giant ice apocalypse? Well, then things get interesting.

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