Friday, March 8, 2019

Writing the Killer Mystery and Weather

The following excerpt comes from Writing the Killer Mystery: Places, Clues and Guilt, Book 4.  Here is some advice about using weather when creating the setting in your mystery.  This advice works across other genres too.

The Weather

“Everybody talks about it, but nobody does anything about it.”

The weather is on everyone’s mind. A dark, rainy morning brings depression. Sunshine speaks happiness. A spring shower washes away sins and heralds a new life. Snow transforms the world into a winter wonderland. A blizzard spells danger. A tornado spins ill will.

Weather goes with the territory. Place the story in Seattle, Washington, and be aware it rains over 200 days a year. Characters feel light rain when they walk out their front doors. Everyone talks about a sunny day. Windshield wipers slap on car windows. Umbrellas go with their owners on trips.

Write a tale of London in the 19th century and be certain of foggy streets and cloudy days. The fact the “foggy city” used coal to heat its homes and businesses until the mid-20th century compounded its murky climate. Billowing clouds above cobblestone pavements and dim alleys create an ambiance of dread and unknown.

Imagine a freak blizzard dumping snow on an isolated mansion in the country, stranding a dozen people for days. Then someone is murdered, but who did it? With no one in or out of the house, it has to be one of them. This was the plot in my book Penelope and The Birthday Curse.

Weather is an integral part of the setting, becoming an element blended into its description. Rain beats on window panes. Snow fills roads. A sunny day raises the temperature, and a cloudy day may drop it. Consider how weather affects your mystery story’s location.

Physical: characters put on extra clothing for the cold and shed garments for the heat. They carry umbrellas in the rain. Apparel gets wet in a downpour. Too much sun burns the skin. Wind musses hair. Consider reactions to the elements.

Psychological: weather influences mental states. On blustery, dreary winter days, people become depressed. Summer sunshine makes them happy. When in love, they dance in the rain. Thunder and lightning frighten them. Consider the characters’ feelings and attitudes toward the weather.

Weather has a direct bearing on the storyline. Snow closes roads and strands people. Winds, tornadoes, and hurricanes destroys homes and kills people. Summer heat and lack of rain leads to fires. The effects of the weather direct the plots course.

Weather represents many things. A pending storm on the horizon means something bad is coming. Rain signifies a change or cleansing. Lightning striking may mean judgment or warning. The symbols can represent a turning point in the story. Consider using weather to flag an important event.

For more ideas, grab a copy from Amazon.

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