I'm going to upset ElmoreLeonard.
Tuesday dawned overcast and muggy. Not a hot muggy, but the chilly kind that creeps into your bones and leaves you wondering if you are dying of malaria or just a bit too hung over to reach for a blanket.
Elmore says, in his wonderful little book, that you should never start with weather. It's a good rule. It shouldn't be broken very often. When you're writing a novel. Or, in the case of my 1991, a novella. I just read Heat Lightning and it was book-ended by weather.
have to be. If I ever get
hired to write the adaptation (which would be cool, I thought it was reasonably
well plotted) I would leave the pages of meteorology out.
|Groundhog Day - it was about a weatherman, not the weather|
EXT. CITY STREET - NIGHT
Lightning without rain. A MAN, late 30s, in black - face sweating. He waits in the shadows beyond a streetlight. His fist is clenched on a silenced pistol held against his thigh.
Showing versus telling. In the book, that took a couple of pages. Then there was a man walking a dog. Then the assassination. Then the body clean up. There was plenty of action, but it was held up by the weather. Throughout the book there was a great deal of effort spent on weather. I kept waiting for the weather to be a factor – you know, a major storm that upset the fishing boat or a power outage or something. It never happened. In “Fargo” the weather was a factor, almost a character, but it didn't get a lot of description. You don’t need to write about the weather.
It’s small talk in real life. On the page, where everything is magnified, it shows that you don’t really have anything to say or that you are afraid to say whatever it is. Call me a conformist, but my advice is that unless you are writing poetry, the best guideline is to leave out the weather report. Note the word "guideline". Naturally, you may have a very good reason to write about the weather. That’s great but make sure that everyone else thinks it’s a really good reason too or you’ll get some polite nods but no commercial success with the piece.
BTW – today is the first morning of my vacation that it hasn't been raining.