Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Let's go for a walk... Part 6: In the Rain

I'm not a big fan of the rain. Okay, that's not exactly true. I actually like rain in-and-of itself, but I hate wet ground, and I'm not too fond of being wet unless I'm in the shower and the water is warm. Mostly, though, I just hate wet feet.

It's raining here this week. You know what that means? It means taking the dog out in the rain. Because she has to go out; although, my daughter has plans for a room inside the house with grass and trees and stuff so that we can just let the dog in there when she needs to go out. That way, the dog gets to go out while still staying inside, and no one has any mess to clean up, because it will be a nature room, and poop can be in nature. I'm not going to dissuade her.

At any rate, it hasn't rained much this year, so, although the dog has had to go out in light drizzles or misty rain, she hasn't had to go out in actual rain. Until today. She did not like it.

Of course, she doesn't understand when she's inside that it's raining outside, so she was very excited to get to go out, as she usually is. Until I opened the front door. She stood there. She looked up at me. She stood there. She never just stands there. I said, "Let's go." She looked up at me and, then, stepped slowly outside. Of course, this just put her on what passes for our front porch, so she wasn't out in the rain yet. She dashed over to the dry strip under the eaves of the garage and made her way down to the driveway. At that point, there was nothing dry left, so we ventured out into the rain.

She acted like I was punishing her. If only she could understand that I wasn't having any fun either. But we managed to slog our way over to the creek path. That was actually kind of nice. Well, not for her, but I like to watch the water, especially when it's high. I also like to take note of the various things floating in it. Today was nothing exciting, though, just a large cup from some fast food place. She didn't take long before she took care of her business, especially when compared to how long she usually takes, and we went home.

The time out in the rain, though, did make me think about weather and how it's used in story telling. How it's used to set mood, raise tension, act as metaphor. These are all good things. Except... well, except when they're not. There was a time when "it was a dark and stormy night" was not cliche, but you can't use that anymore (and you can probably blame Snoopy for that).

That may be the most difficult thing when using weather in stories. Avoiding the cliche. For instance, if I have to read one more time about a kid being lost out in a stormy night... or, you know, watch it in a TV show... I don't know. Do kids not get lost unless it's a dark and stormy night? Because that's what I'm coming to believe. "Uh oh... it's a dark and stormy night. We should go look for lost children."

The main thing is to allow the weather to be natural. I mean that in that it should fit the area your story is set in. I also mean that in that you shouldn't fill your story with sunshine and flowers until you get to the climax and, literally, out of the blue, have a horrible storm. With lost kids.

Weather can be a great tool. Rainy days can drive kids inside until they need to be rescued by and from man-sized cats in tall hats. They can also drive parents crazy until they have to send kids out to play in the "imagination room." Or lead them to discover enchanted wardrobes. It can wreck ships and snow your characters in. Just keep it believable. 


  1. Last night I was watching the GI JOE miniseries about the Weather Dominator. Someone needs to invent that so we can make it rain only when we want it to. Though when I want it to rain and when a farmer wants it to rain would be different. Of course if you're really good at it maybe you could get it so it could rain over just fields when they need it and not on people's houses. The same for snow. Maybe you could get it to snow just at ski resorts and on XMas Eve and not any other time so I don't have to shovel snow ever.

    Now where's Destro when you need him?

  2. So my climactic "Tsunami causes avalance during meteorite shower" in my new story about Kansas farmers whose child runs away ought to be shelved?

    Oprah has a live tree in her house. Or one of them. So your Garden Room is definitely reachable. You just need about a zillion more dollars. Or stop dusting and let nature take its course.

    "Poop can be in nature" is my catchphrase for the day.

  3. My second book was the first time I ever used weather (climate control on spaceships and all that) and there was a thunderstorm, but not at night and no kids were lost.
    I always hated walking our dogs in the rain when I was a kid. Meant I had to dry them afterwards and smell like wet dog the rest of the day.
    And we can't curse the Red Baron anymore thanks to Snoopy, either.

  4. I hear the new thing is to use hurricanes to set the mood. Or if you live in Kansas-Alabama...tornadoes.

  5. It's funny you mention that because now that I think about it, I don't believe I've ever written anything weather-related into a story. Like you, I always felt that was cliched. My character's just had the worst day of his life. Something terrible has happened, he's incredibly sad, and he's out walking with his head down... then and only then it decides to rain? That always seemed lame to me.

  6. Grumpy: Oh, he's probably off playing with the Baroness. :P

    Briane: You know, I think "poop can be in nature" should be everyone's catch phrase.

    Alex: Um, wait... why was there a thunderstorm on a spaceship? >blink<
    Man, I need to get caught up, so I can get on with your book, but I've actually been so busy that I've hardly had any time to read anything.

    Michael: Hurricanes? Really? Have we gone so far down hill that we have to use hurricanes, now?

    ABftS: You know, that did actually happen to me once when I was in high school. However, I was a teenager, so there's nothing to say that everyday wasn't the worse day of my life, and I was in Louisiana where it can rain everyday for months on end, so it's really not outstanding to get rained on when in a bad mood.

  7. My dog hates going out in the rain as well. I don't really get it unless it is a cold rain. If I didn't need to go anywhere and could go back in and get dry, I don't think I'd mind walking around in the rain.

  8. I enjoy reading about weather when its used well in a story. It can really add something you didn't know was missing if done well.

    My dog Lucy used to get weird about going out in the rain, and my other dog Gus still does. In fact, Gus will go on the floor if we don't pay close attention. He'll look at us like he's thinking, "I'm not going out there in that."

    Dumb dog.

  9. My 15 year old daughter just told me off for having it be raining at the beginning of my story. (She's critting for me). She asked me why it was raining, and when I couldn't give her a good answer, told me to think of one or lose it.

  10. I definitely agree. I roll my eyes when I read some cliched weather cue in a story.

  11. Nancy: See, the problem is that dogs also hate being dried off. At least every dog I've ever known hates to be toweled after being wet. And, really, who wants to be around a wet dog? If I was a dog, I wouldn't want to go out in the rain either.

    Rusty: I agree. When it's done well.

    I empathize with your dog. Sometimes, I'd rather go on the floor myself rather than take the dog out in the rain. You know, as long as someone else cleaned it up.

    Sarah P: LOL Well... she does have a point. Not that you have to have a reason. It does, sometimes, rain, after all. But it if it comes off as cliche...

    Shannon: It's one of those things that makes me want to shut a book.