Wednesday, July 10, 2013


One of the interesting things I've discovered since being a contributor to this blog, is how tied I am to the weather.  Since this page has followers from the other side of the world, I have to remember that when I'm sweltering in a summer heat wave (like now!) some of you are bundling up in sweaters and scarves.  Right now, I want to write about summer and about Canada Day (July 1) and how we celebrate with picnics and BBQ's
and swimming at the lake.  But those who are lacing up ice skates and buckling on snowboards, are unlikely to relate.

     It's a truism that everyone talks about the weather but no one does anything about it.  But as authors we can do something about the weather -- at least in our books.  Writers from Shakespeare to Nora Roberts use the weather as a metaphor for mood and character.   Blinded King Lear stumbles about in a storm, symbolic of the disaster that has overcome his life.  
Roberts "Born in Fire" sets the mood on the opening page with  "...winter racing in from the Atlantic like a hound from icy Hades." 
    And how many mysteries take place on "a dark and stormy night?"
    There is no doubt, we writers love to use the weather in our stories.  But my question is about the influence of the weather on our actual writing.  When you sit down to the keyboard does it matter if there is a thunderstorm raging outside?  Can you write of shipwreck on a calm and sunny day?
    My writing room has a window and I find weather does impact  my writing.  When I begin a story in January, it is inevitably set against snowstorms and icy roads and sleeping gardens.  When I start one in May, the story is full of apple blossoms and lilacs. 

     On hot and humid days, my pacing slows down.  Not only do I have trouble dragging the words out of my brain, but my characters all want to go sit under a shade tree and drink lemonade instead of getting on and solving the mystery. 
      Autumn is my best writing time.  Cool, crisp days energize me.  My characters zip around getting into trouble in double-quick time.  They show imagination and initiative.  Unfortunately, my villain is apt to be too likable on a day when frost rimes the grass.  I have to wait for a lowering sky before I do justice to the sneaky, selfish, and cunning creep.
So, what about you?  Are you a slave to the elements?  Is your story world entirely independent of your real world?   If I study your opus would I know which books you began in winter and which ones were dreamt up over the summer?  What tactics do you use to overcome the weather outside and focus on your story climate? 

 Now I'm off to work on the Christmas play for my church.  Very hard to think sleigh bells and snowballs when the temperature is
24°C and the sky is a cloudless blue. :-)                                     To learn more about me and my books, go to


  1. Trying again to comment. Never thought of the weather influencing my writing though it does influence frame of mind. Blue cloudless sky here in Australia too even though heaters are on.

  2. Thanks for persevering with the comment, Dale. I love blue skies and heaters on. Keeps the blood flowing. Lovely summertime where I live but there are several disasters in Canada. Runaway train carrying crude oil has devastated a town in Quebec. Southern Alberta has had the worst flood ever, and Toronto was shut down by a flash flood on Tuesday. The weather is getting cranky!

  3. Like Dale, I have never considered that the weather might influence my writing. Maybe that's because here in Sydney we don't have the great contrasts in temperature that others might experience in different parts of the world, although, again like Dale, my heater is currently on in my study here most mornings and evenings. And Alice, we have heard here in Australia about that terrible train disaster in Canada, if not the rest of your crazy weather there.

  4. Now, there's the advantage of an international blog. I assumed Sydney's weather would be like mine, only with the seasons reversed. In Victoria, we don't get the extreme weather of the prairies, for example, but we do get four definite seasons.
    Thanks for commenting, Jo-Anne.


  5. Love this, Alice! I've noticed that more novels seem to take place in summer, whether or not it matters to the story. I find that mine do, too, and it's partly because I write farm lit stories, so what they're doing outside matters to the plot.

    Now I'm wondering if most writers write in the summer! I don't have the luxury of writing during only one season. I suspect many don't.

  6. It's very true about the weather affecting your writing, especially when your desk faces out the window! However, I get very sneaky, and I listen to certain music to get myself into different moods...but I am a music girl...