So it’s a stereotypical, yet entirely accurate, depiction of the Brits that they always talk about the weather. Fact. But the truth is that, besides it being a very simple conversation-starter guaranteed to elicit a response from even the most anti-social individual, the weather is an inspiration for many things… including, of course – given the nature of this blog – writing.
Firstly, it’s atmosphere. There’s a reason horror or suspense fiction is often set during thunderstorms and romances in the sun. And that’s because weather (good or bad, the definition of which is which may, and often does, change, depending on location) is global.
Then there’s what the ‘force majeure’ or ‘Act of God’ – basically, when something forces characters together in a perfectly legitimate way – snowstorms, sudden thunderstorms and sandstorms are the standard examples. Mysteries (especially Agatha Christie-style) and romantic fiction love (excuse the pun) this trick. And that’s because it works, often without feeling contrived (although there’s some debate on this last one).
There’s also weather used to depict change – stories told over the course of a year or years often use the colour of the leaves or the outside temperature to signal a change in the time of year – often accompanied with a movement in the story.
There’s also symbolism – every one knows that thunder means something’s coming, while the brightness of the sun is akin to rose petals scattered across a double bed in the ‘show-not-tell’ stakes.
And, if all else fails, the weather is just something for the characters to talk about. How’s that for realism in dialogue?
On that note, I’m off to hide under my duvet and contemplate how, although the rain messed up my plans for the day, there are some fictional characters out there whose lives (and not just a few hours of their day) have been significantly affected by this forced change of plans…