Writing Weather in the First Paragraphs

weatherElmore Leonard states in his book, Ten Rules of Writing, “Never open a book with weather.” He  explains that the reader looks for people and will skip ahead to find them if the author writes on and on about the weather.

Sheldon Siegel, author of several modern legal novels, spoke at the California Writers Club, Tri-Valley Writers Branch, on September 20th. Among the many topics he addressed, one was “Setting/Mood–A Sense of Place” in which he said setting is important to orient the reader right away. He suggested writers include “What time of year? What season? What’s the temperature? Is it raining? Snowing?” He advised using all the senses especially smell.

I think Leonard would agree with Siegel if a writer can use those answers to not just create atmosphere, but to show the character’s reaction to the weather and to write it with as few words as possible. When I read a book, I like to know the season and weather conditions, especially if the scene is outdoors. I admire writers who can slip those details into the story without making them sound like description, but to help the reader feel, smell, and hear, what is around the character and react along with him or her.

How do you feel about reading or writing about weather in the first paragraphs?


Filed under Writing Tips

6 responses to “Writing Weather in the First Paragraphs

  1. It depends how it is written. For some reason I always liked Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series beginnings. In the first chapter of every book he describes the weather, but it’s done in a way that is interesting, guiding the reader from a wide external view into a focused view of the characters. It’s like taking a little stroll in the world before you’re introduced to the story. Nice in a way. It’s when it sounds forced that I don’t like reading about it.


  2. I think if it suits your book, then do it. I think what a lot of these people who say stuff like this don’t know what actual readers really do.

    As a writer I think we pick out stuff in books that ‘you’re not supposed to do’, but in the end I bet 95% of readers don’t even notice that stuff and just enjoy the book 😀


  3. Start with action, weave in the weather.


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