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Writing means different things to me. I'm a storyteller, a book editor, and a songwriter. For me, it's like breathing.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Using weather in a story

Ominous. This was the first word that came to mind when I saw these thunderheads gathering in the distance from my backyard. I had to take a picture of the scene with tiny houses being overshadowed by the enormous storm clouds.

This sight made me think of how I use weather in some of my stories, of how the storm clouds looming on the horizon are a metaphor for impending danger.

In my Arthurian romance, White Rose of Avalon, a gentle rainstorm reminds Lancelot how the rain cleanses the earth and washes away the bloodstains on the battlefield. In Beltaine’s Song, a thunderstorm creates different scenarios for the main characters. While seeking shelter from the storm, they encounter people they wouldn’t normally be caught hanging out with. For one character this unlikely encounter leads to his downfall. And in my soon-to-be released Daughter of Night, a sudden thunderstorm sends the heroine into the stables and she comes face to face with the hero. What happens in the stables is a key turning point in the story for them. 

Weather can create different types of scenes. A gentle rainstorm can be soothing, even romantic, while a vicious storm with heavy rain and wind can create tension. Weather can be a useful tool to add an extra ingredient to the story.

I’m working on a story right now and considering a scene where, in the aftermath of a rainstorm, the river crossing rises. This river is the only way the hero can get back to the heroine who is in danger. One of the challenges I have with this hero is that due to a curse, he is immortal. I have to create dangers for him that don’t involve dying. He wouldn’t die trying to cross the raging water, but he could be swept away and pushed even further from the heroine. This type of scene also adds some tension to my story.

As with any writing tool, using weather to enhance a scene should move the story forward in some way or work with character motivations or conflicts.

Kelley Heckart, Historical fantasy romance author

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