“It was a dark and stormy night” predisposes a reader to expect dark and stormy action within a story. As writers, we manipulate the weather – and some might say, the reader – to suit our story. It’s fiction after all: who is to say what patterns the weather follows in our make-believe world?
But in writing historical fiction, the weather may well be as important to our story as the landscape. My stories are set in Dunedin in 1877. Instead of manipulating the weather to suit the story, I made the decision to accommodate the actual weather into the story. In doing so, I gained an important insight into the spread of Scarlet Fever; evidence to support the charges of cruelty against Martha Reid; and evidence of perjury committed by several individuals in another case before the Supreme Court.
I’d be interested to hear from other writers who have written through the weather rather than dictating it.