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Whatever The Weather

This month’s article is inspired by Hurricane Sandy and is dedicated to everyone that was affected. I hope that all will be well again for you soon. – Sandra

Sunlight Through the Trees from The Secret World of ArriettyWhen I started walking this morning the sun warmed my back. Or at least it would’ve if I wasn’t carrying a pack on it. The journey seemed an arduous task, sweltering hot. I perched upon a rock for a while and swept my hat from my head. The birds sang sweetly, butterflies fluttered about and I’m sure you won’t be surprised to learn that a sweet little rabbit hopped by.

All was well. I couldn’t be anything but happy, naturally.

Then I started thinking. I reflected on my family back home and suddenly it hit me, I missed them. I felt a pang of loneliness and it wasn’t long before I dabbed away a tear.

I’d barely noticed but the clouds were rolling in. The birds had silenced, the rabbit had disappeared and the last butterfly had fluttered away. A fat, cold drop of rain splashed on my hand, followed by another drop, wet and warm, that one was a tear.

I swiped a hand across my cheek and looked around. Thankfully no-one was there. What an idiot, imagine if I’d been seen. Wouldn’t do much for my hard man image. Anger rolled up through my chest and felt fit to burst out, just as a clap of thunder rattled around the sky.

I ran for cover, tripped and slid down a rabbit hole. I rolled over and peered back out at the increasingly inclement weather.

“Amazing isn’t it?” said a female voice beside me.

I looked and all I could see was a rabbit. She twitched her ears and wiggled her nose.

“Umm, what is?” I asked feeling a bit stupid talking to a fluffy bunny.

Blizzard by randihausken“The weather of course. It’s matching your mood.”

I was about to protest, giving the creature a frosty glare. As I watched she sat up on her haunches and peered out of the hole. I followed her gaze and what did I see? Snow.

“Is that you doing that? Are you some kind of magic bunny?” I’d never heard a rabbit laugh before but I think that was the sound she made.

“Oh, I’m not doing it, I’m not even sure that you are but it sure seems to fit doesn’t it?” I smiled and, of course, the sun came out.

So there you have it. For centuries we have used the weather to tell the tale. In Narnia the snow portrayed a world in abeyance, awaiting salvation. In The Lord of the Rings the sun always shone in The Shire. Disney often used swirling clouds as the evil magic gathered its force ready to strike. And who can forget the forbidding oppression of ‘Winter is coming.’?

It’s what’s known as a macrocosm and is a powerful tool to the storyteller. It doesn’t usually connect to one person’s mood of course; more often it is a setting that denotes the mood of the scene at play.

Storm by Franz SchumacherThe benefit is that weather evokes a response in each of us, mention snow and you know it’s cold, describe the biting pain as the frost penetrates the very bones and you can’t help but start to feel it. That response helps to put the reader into a suitable mood for your scene. Talk of persistent rain in dark streets and most people will feel miserable, perfect for a world in which your characters have to fight to survive. Talk of glorious sunshine and fabulous greenery and it feels as if all is well, just the thing for a utopian world. The bonus for a writer is a shortcut to scene setting, leaving more words for telling the real story. Of course the real skill is using the tool creatively to tap in to your readers’ senses to bring them into your world, feeling what your characters feel.

I crawled out of the rabbit hole and sat upon the rock. The clouds subsided and the sun began to dry me out. I allowed myself a little smile as the rabbit hopped by. Maybe I hit my head when I fell but even so, I’m felt a little wiser and ready to press on, weather permitting.

Title image by Franz Schumacher.

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