about writing and life and God

What the weather shows

on November 22, 2012

Southwold pier and beach, 22nd November 2012

I know what I want to do in this weather: hibernate, or at the least stay indoors with a good book. It says a lot about me! But how do our story people react to weather and what does it say about them?

Because my novel (the Work in Progress but on the back-burner till the end of the year) is historical, set in a real place at a real time, and has real people in it – and may be read by people whose families have memories going back then – I felt it was important to find out what the weather was doing during the period when the action happens. That’s autumn 1921 through to early 1922.

I’m glad I did because it turns out it’s significant. The weather in East Anglia and the south of England in October 1921 was ‘unseasonably warm’. For the herring fishermen, this was not a good thing. Herring don’t like heat! They stay in the cool bottom of the sea and don’t come up at night, which is when the drifters used to catch them.

As a result, the boats were tied up in port and the men idled their time away. Tempers frayed. Skippers fretted. And when on a Saturday night, a lively young man with a loud singing voice and a heartfelt message stood in the marketplace and began to sing and preach, there were plenty of bored fisherfolk ready to stop and listen.

And the result was the Fishermen’s Revival and the heart of my story.

Later in that same autumn, the weather changed for the worst with tremendous storms of thunder and lightning and gigantic hailstorms, all affecting the men out at sea and the fisherlassies out in the open gutting the catch.

But one man’s hailstorm is another man’s opportunity, and one fisherlassie’s miserable drenching is another’s hilarious letter home. We react in different ways and the weather can neatly and effectively tell a lot about our characters.

Yes, I know. It’s one more thing to think about! One more to add to the list. But it will make our stories more true and our characters more rounded. And it shows character rather than us making the mistake of telling. Got to be a bonus!



2 responses to “What the weather shows

  1. Pat says:

    And that looks as bleak and cold as you’d want it to be in November. Horrible. Looks like a brave walk you took there!

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