Sorry, I haven’t been blogging much lately. I’ve been working on my manuscript—“Betrayal in the Highlands” (due out in August! *PLUG! PLUG! PLUG!*).
I’ve also been reading.
As I wrote previously, I’m trying to read more so that I can become a better writer. I want to read not only the brilliant and the good books (to see what works), but also the “not so good” books (to see what, in my opinion, doesn’t work). Again, we as writers can learn from everybody.
One of the books I’ve been reading seems to be falling into the second category. It isn’t that it’s horrible. The characters are fine. The story is fine. The writing is fine…except for one thing.
Every time the writer describes the weather, it’s “bright and sunny” or the stars are “blazing in the blackness.” And so forth.
Now, being trapped in northeastern Ohio throughout the winter, I can appreciate nice weather. Believe me, I’m DYING to see the sun! But I imagine that even beautiful, sunny days wear a bit thin when they happen all the time. I’m starting to realize how that applies to writing as well.
If I were to say that writers need to create diverse characters, you’d probably agree with me. After all, even twins have different personalities. And nobody wants to read a story where everybody acts and thinks and talks the same.
The same is true for the environment or setting of the story.
I think stories hit a rut when all the lands are beautiful and fair or have rolling hills of green wavy grass. That’s wonderful for a scene or two. But after a while, I want to see trees. I want to see mountains. I even want to see barren wastelands. In many ways, a forest of dead trees could be just as emotion-provoking as a forest with leaves of copper and gold.
I’M TALKING VARIETY!!!! GIVE ME VARIETY!!!!
Which gets me to the issue with the weather in the book I’m reading.
Because the sun is always bright and the sky is always blue, the writer’s world feels forced and contrived to me. It also seems flat. Doesn’t it rain at all???? How do the fields of wavy grass stay green without rain??? Seriously, I’ve been following these characters for several months of their lives and not once has it rained or hailed or snowed or had nasty gusts of wind that burn the characters’ cheeks.
I WANT VARIETY!!!
As an aspiring writer, I’m trying to think of the setting and the climate as characters in and of themselves, characters with different moods and personalities.
This is particularly challenging for me since my manuscript occurs during the winter in the far north— where there’s nothing but snow, snow, and more snow. I’m trying to add variety to a climate that is dominated by white and cold. But even snow can be beautiful and angry and peaceful and spiteful. And even in the dead of winter a little sun must break through the grayness.
I should thank the writer of the book I’m reading. He taught me a valuable lesson that I couldn’t have learned from the brilliant books. Now if I can just apply that lesson to my own work….