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Exercise: Everyone talks about the weather...

These exercises were written by IWW members and administrators to provide structured practice opportunities for its members. You are welcome to use them for practice as well. Please mention that you found them at the Internet Writers Workshop (http://www.internetwritingwor kshop.org/).

Prepared by: Rhéal Nadeau
Posted on: October 26, 2003
Reposted on: September 25, 2005

"Everyone talks about the weather but no one does anything about it."

Weather is a big part of our lives. We hope for favourable weather, curse bad weather. Weather is a background in our lives, and sometimes a major influence or threat. We admire a sunset or a rainbow or the play of sunlight on clouds; we fear blizzards or thunderstorms.

We already have an exercise dealing with weather as an active factor in a story ("Au naturel" - person versus nature conflict). This exercise will deal with weather as part of the setting (of a story, poem, essay, etc.)

First of all, think of weather you have seen or experienced: anything from a lovely cloud formation to a major storm. What was special about that scene? How would you describe it? Think of several examples, before you pick one to use for the exercise.

Of course, nothing should be in a story unless it serves the story, so think how that type of weather might affect the character(s). For example, a snowstorm will mean something different to an avid skier than it does to someone trying to get to an important appointment. A happy person will see the beauty in the colours of autumn leaves; a sad person might view the falling leaves as melancholy omens of things ending or dying.

So, the exercise: write a scene (no more than 250 words) in which weather is described through a character's point of view (first or third limited). Don't tell us directly what mood or situation the character is in, but let the reader find out through the description.

When critiquing, in addition to any standard comments on the writing, tell us how well the description worked for you (could you see/feel the weather being described?), and what you learned about the character through that description.

Rhéal Nadeau's wrap-up
Posted on: November 1, 2003

A busy week, although it did seem like the number of submissions was below our current average. On the other hand, a lot of critiques for those submissions!

The level of success at meeting the exercise goal was mixed. The intention was to have the weather front and center, and through that description learn something more about the characters affected, just by how the weather was presented. Some submissions did this very well; in others, the characters were front and center, and the weather was just an element of the background (or sometimes barely present at all. I would urge members to do their best to write within the limits of the exercise - there is a reason behind each one (in this case, both to learn to use weather as part of the setting, and to provide character information indirectly - often the most effective way of doing so.)

That said, the submissions as a whole showed both the variety and impact of weather, and the many ways it can be used in our writing. I hope we will all keep in mind how much weather can contribute to our writing, if handled properly.


Web site created by Rhéal Nadeau and the administrators of the Internet Writing Workshop.
Modified by Gayle Surrette.