Since the weather has decided to act like winter in the midwest, I've had a quick wake-up on how cold it can become in such a short time. Writing about the weather can be challenging. When the storms come to Illinois the wind has usually changed and/or collided with another wind and it stirs up all kinds of craziness. Consider The Wizard of OZ; it all started with an unexpected twister. In order for the reader to understand the effects the weather has placed on the characters, the writer must explain in vivid detail the situation. When a basic element changes, our characters are forced to act or react, bringing out the true nature of their beliefs.
When I was researching my Civil War story (still unpubbed at this time) my character is with his unit in Tennessee in mid-February. Tennessee weather is fickle and the warmth of the sun had many soldiers tossing off their winter coats, dropping them along the road. That night, a documented truth, a bitter snow storm swept across the country, leaving the Yankee boys unprotected. Writing that scene was exciting and humbling, realizing many suffered because of their earlier actions. They had moved too far down the road to retrieve their coats. Their naivete caused them misery.
Similarly in my second book, Promises To Keep, one of my characters is sweltering in the Kentucky summer sun, sitting by the river in nothing but a petticoat. She and her children are trying to cool off in the miserable heat by spending time at the water's edge. Her decision to disrobe quickly become a mistake when another disrupts their picnic.
I'm not sure which scene I enjoyed writing the most. Neither were easy; both had their quirks to be ironed out to get the words just right. I'm not sure which I enjoy reading the most either. I still cringe when I read about the soldiers struggling to stay alive. And my character, Annie, caught unexpectedly in such disarray because of the heat, catches my breath at her vulnerability.
My dilemma may never be answered, I realize I enjoy using the weather to create suspense, drama and challenge for my characters. How about you? Do you enjoy cold or heat the most for your scenes? Share with us!
Til next time ~