I can always tell which writers have spent their lives in moderate climates.
If they stick to writing about sun and clouds and soft, warm breezes, they can keep their identities hidden. But as soon as they write about Weather…
Now, there are all different types and locations of weather. I do not claim to a particular understanding of tropical typhoons, but I can tell when someone has not spent much time in a place where the weather is far below the point of freezing.
Or even a place where rain is a continuous and constant companion.
Weather is part of the background radiation of our lives.
We do not think much of it except where it enhances or destroys our plans, but we build small actions, life routines around its presence or absence.
I read a story recently that was written about the Far North in winter. The author wrote of the main character getting into his truck, turning on the engine and peeling out of his driveway.
I knew instantly that the writer had not spent much time in a northern winter.
Little things are what make our worlds real or not real.
Little things like the fact that the main character either just destroyed the block heater that was making sure his engine could start or he had somehow found the much-maligned secret of cold fusion.
I speak about weather, but really this is about not knowing what we don’t know. So many of our small precautions, our day-to-day concerns with weather are things that are not found in research documents.
How would you know about block-heaters on car engines unless you had stood there, heart-in-throat, in a time where the air itself froze and your truck froze with it?
There was another story set in a place that spends most of its year under a constant stream of rain and damp. It was strange to read about it empty of the constant wetness that shaped my daily life and routines.
It is not that weather needs to be a constant reminder in the actions of a character, but a small acknowledgement of the world that shapes us helps me to connect with the world that is being created.
It is not all ugliness and inconvenience.
There is a tremendous beauty that is taken away by not showing the weather around us.
The crisp, clean lines of a cold morning, so bright that it hurts.
The soft coat of rain that rests on everything around us, a connection between the sky and the ground.
There are so many small things that breathe life into stories. Weather is one of my favourites.
For my own take on weather and story-telling, my fantasy novel, The Guests of Honor, is available here.