Setting the tone in writing: Weather-related phenomenon

Weather is easy to overlook in fiction unless it pertains purposefully to plot. The elements, however, can convey mood or setting.

I think of when I was a child, waiting for the bus in the country. I loved the fog! It was eerie the way it changed my relationship with the world around me. I could no longer see the cornfield across the road or the neighbor’s house. Sounds echoed differently. Lights shimmered. The fog created a mood.

In my novel Red Haze, I use slushy freezing rain to set the mood for a scene between a mother and daughter with a failing relationship:

Marne plopped down on a bench at the edge of campus and pulled her phone out of her pocket. Her hair, wet and cold, clung to her face and icy water dripped from her nose. The phone buzzed in her ear and then her mother answered. Slush fell in angry clumps from tree branches, smacking the pavement.

“Hello?” To Marne’s ears her mother’s tone sounded sharp.

“Mom, it’s me.”

“Marne, sweetheart, I’m surprised to hear from you again so soon.” Her voice did not warm. “Are things going well? How’s pledging going?”

“Fine, Mom.” Marne shivered. Moisture rolled down her neck to her back. She had so many things she wanted to discuss with her mother, so many unresolved feelings, and pledging was not one of them. Marne and her mother had never discussed her brother’s death, his suicide. In fact, her mother had never said the word suicide. Marne never blamed her mother, though she wondered if her mother felt that she did.


How does this photo of a foggy lake affect you? Do you find it serene? Sinister? If you suddenly hear a noise you cannot identify or see through the fog, how does your mood change? How can you use weather in your writing to affect the moods or your characters and your readers?

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