Bob Hope used to say "England has four seasons - all of them in one day!" It had me thinking about the weather - and how this affects writers. It certainly is used by film makers. Think of the film Body Heat and imagine it set anywhere else but steamy Florida. Just would not work.
The glorious romantic novel Wuthering Heights could not be set anywhere else but the wilds of the Yorkshire Moors. That damp, wind swept, empty landscape lends itself to this passionate romance. The Yorkshire Moors is a place of dramatic weather.
Tuesday here in England, it was pouring with rain - yesterday the sun came out and it was blissfully warm. I was walking in the hills beyond the coastal strip of Morecambe Bay - a place of dangerous tides and shifting sands and magnificent views. You would write a different scene if it were a stormy day, yesterday the area looked quite benign and a gentle scene would be easy to put together.
Thomas Hardy, the great English novelist, uses the weather and the seasons effectively. Think Tess of the D'Urbavilles. When (I always think) the drippy Angel Clair sees her for the first time, she is dancing in a sun speckled meadow - so different from her in hard times, digging for turnips in a cold, frosty field in mid-winter. Gone is the happy carefree milkmaid.
I like to set books in warm climes when I can - I love the heat myself and feel happy then. But the winter storms can be very useful for scenes that require mystery, tension and suspense. There is something frightening about that bare tree tap tapping on the window pane. The wind whistling under the door...bound to have the reader asking. "What is going to happen?"
How boring it would be, I think to have no changing seasons at all - to have summer all year round, no rain - no glorious pictures of frost sparkling on the evergreen, what would film makers do? What would writers do?