EVENTS Let’s talk about the weather

In February, I ran a freewriting workshop based on the weather for the Manchester group, writes Jayne Fallows.

It was having the new experience of wearing glasses every day that first gave me the idea.

They go dark when it’s bright and, when I go inside, it can be several minutes before they return to normal. When I go from the cold outside to the warm inside, they steam up – and don’t even get me started on when it’s raining. I started thinking about how different types of weather can affect a character’s possessions, their mood, or the people around them, and I’d recently read a couple of books where the weather had affected the plot.

So how do a character’s possessions react to the weather? Are they struggling to spread the butter because it’s too hard in cold weather – or maybe the butter has turned to oil because it’s so hot? Does their washing dry too quickly in a heatwave and their towels look like surfboards? Do their trousers freeze on the washing line and look like they’re trying to run away?

Writing weather-related ideas: SCBWIs Ruth Estevez (right) and Mel Green.
(Picture credit: Susan Brownrigg).

How does weather affect a character’s mood? What if a character suffers from SAD, for example? Are they grumpy when it’s too hot, or too hot and bothered to move? Or are they out there on a sun lounger at the merest hint of sunshine? Weather can affect plot – a swarm of wasps can spoil a picnic, for example.

What if your character is in a hurry or in a race against time, but first, someone has to de-ice the car? Is the weather preventing your character from getting to a place, or making them divert to somewhere they hadn’t planned?
How can the people around your character tell your reader about the weather? People walk differently when it’s cold – collars up and heads down, or fighting with umbrellas in wind and rain. 
What does your character think about people who are incorrectly dressed for the weather? For the workshop, I asked the group to fold a piece of A4 paper into four and choose a type of weather that one of their characters might experience. I asked them to write ‘Mood’, ‘Possessions’, ‘Plot’, and ‘People,’ – one word in each corner – then choose a particular type of weather to write in the centre of the page.

An exercise to help think about how weather affects elements in a story.
(Picture credit: Susan Brownrigg).
We then spent around 15 minutes brainstorming and jotting down ideas of how our chosen type of weather might affect each of the sections on the table in relation to our work in progress. When we had done this, we then spent another 15 minutes freewriting a short scene involving the weather, using some of the information from each of the sections. When we shared our work after the freewriting session, people said they had never thought about including the weather in this way and would be making some changes to their WIP as a result of the workshop.

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Jayne Fallows can’t remember a time when she did not like writing. She is currently working on her tween novel about an Egyptian princess. When not in her home town of Stockport you can usually find her watching dolphins from a cliff top in Anglesey.


Fran Price is Events Editor for Words & Pictures, the online magazine for SCBWI-BI. Contact her at

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