Using the weather, its elements, and conditions isn’t something new. Our beloved writers from the beginning of time have taken inspiration from cloudy skies, thunderstorms, and blizzards.
Remember to get the weather in your damn book – weather is very important.”Ernest Hemingway
Weather captures the environment and illustrates the mood and tone, relating to the scene and its emotions. Weather can be a form of description, used as reference without directly stating true accounts.
If you accept any of Ernest Hemingway’s wise words, it is his advice about weather and literature.
Weather helps to accentuate a feeling and relates to association of comfort or uneasiness. Of happiness or misery. Sunshine versus a full on rainstorm.
We have read, many times, how sunshine feels against skin, how it can warm the world, make flowers happy, and moods lift. We have also read how a somber character feels as if the raindrops and puddles are speaking to him or her. Their gray attitude and the dreary atmosphere makes for a perfect metaphor.
On the fifth day, which was a Sunday, it rained very hard. I like it when it rains hard. It sounds like white noise everywhere, which is like silence but not empty.”The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time – Mark Haddon
Analyzing how famous writers and poets have used weather within their craft, can help us to better understand its reason for integration and how, we as creators, can continue the natured trends.
Any excuse for me to talk about The Great Gatsby, the book I believe to be one of the best, is a good one. And I will do it again today, discussing how F. Scott Fitzgerald applied weather conditions to act as symbolism.
The book was an emotional one for Jay Gatsby and Daisy Buchanan and feelings were often strained. The role of weather came into play throughout the novel. The use of sun and pouring rain related to the mood of reconciled love and the bitterness that followed.
For a moment the last sunshine fell with romantic affection upon her glowing face; her voice compelled me forward breathlessly as I listened—then the glow faded, each light deserting her with lingering regret like children leaving a pleasant street at dusk.”The Great Gatsby
The sun helps to accentuate the beauty and delicateness of Daisy. The quote also took into account the disappearing sun, something darker will soon follow, such as night. Fitzgerald combined the pleasant side with the betrayal-like nature that the sun possesses.
The rain poured down his thick glasses and he took them off and wiped them to see the protecting canvas unrolled from Gatsby’s grave.”The Great Gatsby
Rain poured at Gatsby’s grave. Death and somber weather always seem to go hand in hand.
In fact, deathly things can cue to rainstorms, darkness, and uneasy weather. The beginning of William Shakespeare’s Hamlet is no stranger to the mysteriousness and eeriness that bad weather can create. Along with a ghost.
Notably, Hamlet is not the only play by Shakepeare that utilizes weather’s elements to further illustrate tone and mood. King Lear does just the same.
As King Lear is in his intense fit of rage and anger, the skies seem to viciously churn, fueled by his fury. Together, the weather and King Lear’s mood are relating and reflecting each other, creating a perfect form of symbolism.
Blow, winds, and crack your cheeks! rage! blow!King Lear
You cataracts and hurricanoes spout
Till you have drench’d our steeples, drown’d the cocks!”
Rumble thy bellyful! Spit, fire! spout, rain!King Lear
Nor rain, wind, thunder, fire, are my daughters.”
Of course, weather can also be portrayed as a form of beauty. The mention of weather can be a simplistic thing.
A drop fell on the apple tree
Another on the roof;
A half a dozen kissed the eaves,
And made the gables laugh.
A few went out to help the brook,
That went to help the sea.
Myself conjectured, Were they pearls,
What necklaces could be!
The dust replaced in hoisted roads,
The birds jocoser sung;
The sunshine threw his hat away,
The orchards spangles hung.
The breezes brought dejected lutes,
And bathed them in the glee;
The East put out a single flag,
And signed the fête away.”Rain Poem – Emily Dickinson
Emily Dickinson wrote of the rain showers we all know too well, especially during the summer season. Dickinson uses fun word choice which makes this rainstorm sound playful, opposite of the other tones explored previously, relating to more depressing and sad emotions.
When writing, using weather to help describe the setting and provide location for your plot, gives you a lot of opportunity to use elements that offer further context. As we have seen here, weather can help to further set the mood and tone, relate to a character’s emotions, and can even provide beauty.
Add more weather into your story and see the benefits, just like Ernest Hemingway suggested, “Remember to get the weather in your damn book – weather is very important.”