Monday, April 3, 2017

Setting the Gothic Mood: Weather

"It was a dark and stormy night" - Edward Bulwer-Lytton, Paul Clifford

There's a reason the phrase, it was a dark and stormy night, is synonymous with dark tales. The mystery and foreboding are aided by a description of the weather. That mixed with the darkness and you get the feeling something eerie is about to happen.

Let's talk about the weather. It's spring and it's raining a lot where I live. So this month, I thought I'd explore the use of weather when setting a Gothic mood.

The Gothic genre is extremely atmospheric and weather almost takes a life of its own in these stories. It can convey what the characters are feeling, it can be used to sway the plot and it can also prepare the reader for what's around the bend. This is true of all genres, but I find it vital for Gothic tales.

When it comes to your characters and the weather, it can affect them and their mood, as part of the setting. But you can also use weather to describe your characters' internal landscape. Weather is all about the emotions, which I discuss further in another post about the symbolic language of weather.

Weather can be used to isolate the characters, which is an important aspect of this genre. It can direct your plot, as your characters become snowed in, a deluge washes away the only bridge or lightning strikes a transformer effectively cutting off the phone lines. I'd say, your plot just took a turn.

You can also use the weather as a way to foreshadow events in your story, as well as set up an emotional moment or turning point, like the calm before the storm or using severe or unexpected changes in the weather.

Here is a list of some weather conditions to consider for your Gothic and Dark stories.
  • Rain
  • Storms
  • Lightning
  • Fog
  • Mist
  • Snow
  • Ice
  • Extreme heat – as in a desert
  • Humidity - southern or tropical.
  • Extreme weather – hurricanes, tornadoes, tsunamis

I recommend reading or re-reading Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte. Bronte uses weather brilliantly in that novel, and in all of the ways I've described above. While reading it take note of the weather and what it is really describing.

Now, I've used a lot of cliques in this post to help make my point. They are all scenarios and descriptions we've seen and can quickly pick out from previous works. The world of weather is much richer than this, so play around with descriptions and add in your own voice.

Want to learn more about writing the weather?  Try this post by Novel Writing Help. I'll also be creating lists of weather descriptions this month, so keep an eye out.

How have you been using the weather in your stories? Do you have any other examples of where the weather was key to the tale?

♥ Shadow.

Reading Recommendation: Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte.

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