Daily Archives: March 11, 2010

Into the Fog

Another blanket of fog covered my little corner of the world yesterday.  I say another because this weather pattern has been frequent this winter.  As I embarked on my taxi rounds, I got to thinking about fog–in the novel sense.

I might be wrong when I say this, as I haven’t a shred of proof to back it up, but it seems to me that fog is the most used weather pattern in literature.  Sure the perfect storm might roll in or a blizzard may blow two almost love-birds into a cabin for a weekend.  But fog is universal.

It happens in California, London, New York and New Zealand.  It clouds up mountain tops, drifts across the roads, surrounds, engulfs, rolls in, wraps, settles, lifts, covers, swathes, shifts, hides, steals, seeps and slithers.  It performs all sorts of amazing feats that other weather doesn’t do. 

It is also synonomous with our emotions.  Which could possibly make it the most cliched weather pattern in fiction.  It’s an easy out and the perfect metaphor when things go awry.

Weather can set the tone, wreak havoc, create distractions and impede progress.  It can be the backdrop for an entire novel, or simply the ominous setting for a single chapter.  I’ve used it.  Not fog, but blizzards, tornadoes and thunder storms.  Cloudy days appear in my manuscripts and generally have some connection to my MC’s emotional state.

Agent Mary Kole discussed weather on her blog about a month back.  She stated (and I’m paraphrasing) that when people have nothing to talk about, they talk about the weather.  Since reading that, I’ve found it to be true.  And since I live in Minnesota and the weather has been interesting this past year, I have caught myself more often than not discussing the weather with acquaintances. 

What does this say about our manuscripts when they are littered with rain clouds and fog?  Are we treating our readers as acquaintances or best friends and confidants?

“Wow, some fog out there.”

“Yeah, I could barely see the mailbox when I drove right by it.”

“Took me fifteen minutes longer to get into town, it was so thick.”

“Worse than split pea soup.”

That’s boring in real life.  Reading it is torturous.  Yet it happens, because weather can be such a good barometer for the events in a book.  Over-used, however, and it loses its impact altogether.

How do you use weather in your writing?  Have your characters ever discussed it in an actual conversation?  Does fog play a part in any of your written works?  If so, was it used as setting, an incident that needed to be overcome or a metaphor for your MC’s feelings?

Which weather pattern do you find most frequently in the books you read?  Which do you like least and why?