Building Blocks (Weather, whether or not)

How important is a weather condition to the action of the story; painting the scene, or an antagonist?

He looked up and saw there were clouds moving in, the sun had receded into the safety behind them, and the air tasted of pending rain.  Good theatrics; ominous clouds and pending rain.  He had never used theatrics because you were begging for problems when you allowed extraneous things to get into the act. (Simplicity Lane, © Steven S. Walsky, 2007.)

Six days before their second anniversary Randy takes off “looking for a job” in West Virginia; not alone, but with a girl he met the night before.  When Randy returns, “Too cold in that place, snow, ice…like it was in the mountains.” (Through a Stranger’s Eyes, © Steven S. Walsky, 2005.)

Think about weather related experiences you have had; the oddities and the odysseys.

We had a seasonally odd, mild to hot, February.  During the last week of February, Stafford Country, Virginia was experiencing a sunny, clear, 74° afternoon.  Suddenly, I heard pounding on the house!  Looking out the window I saw 1″ balls of hail.  The hail melted as soon as it hit the warm ground.  About 15 miles north they were having 1 ½” hail.  Our hail storm ended quickly, and the February day resumed its ‘springness’.  Meanwhile, 45 miles to the east, La Plate, Maryland had a rare February tornado.

I was 23 when I saw my first tornado; it was in Oklahoma.  Growing up in Baltimore, Maryland I had experienced rain, hail, snow, hurricanes, and floods…but no tornados.  Now, two tornado incidents have etched an indelible image on my writer’s brain.  The first was in the mid-1990s.  I was at work near Washington, D.C. and we heard over the TV news monitor that a tornado had struck the La Plata.  Someone raised the volume, and the entire room listened.  When they showed a picture of the bad damage, one fellow employee stood and said, shockingly, “That’s my house!”  Silence in the room as we watched him exit for home.

The second tornado memory event happened on May 8, 2008.  A ‘possible tornado’ warning was broadcast over the TV for Stafford, Va.  Having seen tornados forming in my area, I took appropriate action; i.e., making sure there was water and Route 11 potato chips in my safe area.  As I stood watching the TV in the adjacent room, it suddenly got very, eerily quiet outside.  Steve, tornados make noise.  Wait…hold on…why head for the Route 11 potato chips too soon.  Instantly, I actually said this to myself, “Steve, stop the ‘manliness BS’ “; and as I turned to go to the safe area, I heard three loud thumps outside.  Looking in that direction, I could see through the door window that a large Bartlett Pear tree was lying next to the door. The tornado had decided to travel along the street next to my house, and at my house it started to lower itself, made a right turn, jumped over my court, and then landed in another section of my development; doing damage to a number of houses.  When I went outside, I saw three Bartlett Pear trees had been blown down onto my property.  Lesson learned, go to the safety spot soonest!

Whether you experience, read, or hear about the weather, weather can affect your writing.

Think about your ‘building blocks’; we can not write without them.


5 thoughts on “Building Blocks (Weather, whether or not)

  1. Great examples, Steve. Tornadoes are so frightening. We had a little F1 come through here, and although it didn’t take the house apart, I’ve never heard anything like that in my life! And the huge tree it sent down on our slate roof (putting a hole in the attic above the kitchen) was amazing.

    As far as writing … I am the queen of falling on ice. I fell in front of a pizza shop once. I may have bounced, but I held on to that pizza! It was winter in one of my books, and I had my main character falling all over town. If I had to suffer the humiliation, she could, too. 🙂

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