What’s the Weather Like in Your Story?

WindowviewartsyI feel a bit nervous saying this, as though by daring to utter it I might somehow invite another winter thrashing, but it truly does seem that spring may at last have won the epic battle it has been waging with winter for the past two months. It was finally dry enough and warm enough to spend the day outside, to feel the sun’s heat on my skin and hair, to remember what summer is like. I don’t know how dependable the change of the seasons is in the Middle East, but as a Michigander I feel greatly comforted when I read that God is more faithful than the changing of the seasons.

I think something in us as humans wants to have to contend with something. We want to contend with something and win, or at least endure. And that’s why when outsiders or transplants to Michigan bemoan the weather or are surprised by 50-degree temperature swings in a day or can’t believe it’s still snowing in late April we smugly shrug our shoulders and say “That’s Michigan!”

You don’t like weather? Start packing your bags.

And yet, even I will admit that enough is enough. I knew winter had gone on far too long when I was driving home from Grand Rapids earlier this week and I noticed a farmer’s field covered in bright green and my very first thought was, “What the heck is that?” Two days later I drove back to Grand Rapids in a snow storm.

My own modest gardens have come alive as well. And I saw the first bug smash against my windshield this week, so it is spring for real. Isn’t it?

Maybe because I’ve grown up with schizophrenic weather I love reading stories where weather plays a part or sets a mood. I like to know if it’s sunny or cloudy, humid or parched, burning or icy. Should I be sweating as I read this scene or shivering? If it’s raining, what kind of rain is it? A steady cold spring rain? Drizzle? The fat, merciless raindrops of a storm? Is it falling straight down or sideways? Does it soak me or sting me? Am I managing to stay dry or is my face wet?

Do you make the best use of weather in your writing? Or is that a literary tool you’ve left in your toolbox?

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