Posted by: Kathy Temean | April 11, 2010

Using the Weather to Help Tell Your Story

Weather is an ideal setting tool you can use to help convey what is going on in your story or what is going on in one of your character’s head.  Even the most basic of weather descriptions convey a mood:

Spring = hope, new birth, rebirth
Summer = adulthood, happiness
Autumn = preparing for old age, harvesting, maturity
Winter = death, decay
Calm before the storm = trouble or a change ahead
Clouds on horizon = trouble ahead
Cloudy = confused, muddled, unclear
Fog = confusion, unaware
Rain = depressed, badness, or washing away the bad
Rainbow = hope, a link between two extremes (sun and rain)
Rough weather = problems, trouble ahead
Snow = coldness, cleansing, softness
Storm = trouble, a change
Sunshine = happiness, goodness
Wind = No wind = no change, Windy = changes

A few subtle references to the weather dropped in to your scene can help you convey a message. Example, the changing light – from bright to muted grey can foreshadow something evil is on the way.  Metaphors and weather work well. 

You can build the mood in your scene by using weather. If a sudden change is necessary in mood, you could make that happen by creating a sudden change in the weather.
Let’s take rain and list some of the things rain could add to your scene:
  • Does something in the scene stop because of the weather?
  • Does the rain change how things sound?
  • Does it cause someone to stop talking? 
  • Does it stop things that were making a noise? 
  • Does its drown out something the characters were listening to?
  • Does it bring silence?
  • Think about how inanimate objects react to the rain.
  • How do your characters change or react to the rain.
  • How does it affect the characters in the scene?   
  • How does the rain affect textures of objects in the scene?    
  • Does the rain touch any of the characters?
  • Does the rain affect what they’re doing? 
  • How does it feel?
  • How does it affect their mood and or emotions?
    Remember the setting is an integral part of writing a novel and the weather is a helpful tool you can use to set the scene.  Of course, only use the weather if it adds or helps tell something in your story.

    Any thoughts on other ways of setting a scene?


  1. Many good points made. Much food for thought.

    I always take away many interesting tidbits from your blog 🙂


  2. Wendy,

    I am glad you are out there and finding some things you can use. Where are you from?



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