How the seasons add elemental vigour to your writing
Come rain or shine. At this time of year, we start to notice the seasons changing. Have you ever noticed how your moods often change with the seasons? The way we eat, dress, socialise – a lot of this is dependent on the weather. Use this in your writing.
Recently, I read a detective story set in a cold New York December. The writer used the elements in a way that added to his story in a dramatic way. The bloody body found in the snow, a grey sky, the detective’s black coat and red hair all formed a frame to set the mood.
In another romance novel, a family retreats to their island home for the holidays—but while the children run around in costumes and tan on the beach, the mother feels hot and frumpy in her dress. She yearns to be able to swim but she is self-conscious about her body.
For most us, we only think about the weather as a backdrop to the story. If we look at more closely, we soon see it adds a new vitality to the story—to colour emotions, to infuse the plot, to bring a character to life.
Play with extremes. Make it the hottest day of the year and your heroine’s car breaks down. The hero has to strip off his shirt to stay cool under the hood. What mood will this create? It’s been raining for days and the rain has washed the blood and prints from a crime scene? How will this affect a police inspector’s mood and his case?
A colourful palette. Each season gives a paint box to add tone and description to our stories. A bride in an ivory gown getting married on the family farm – her father has picked sunflowers from the fields; a page boy wears a gold bow tie. These touches of gold and yellow add to a theme or set piece. Think like an artist when writing.
Think tradition. For many of us, we mark the seasons with traditions both big and small. It’s winter so a grandmother starts her annual blanket-for-harity collection – but slips on the ice and is forced to spend time with her estranged granddaughter. A family goes on their annual summer camping in the woods – when one of the children disappears. How has the weather added tension or helped the plot along?