Using Weather in Your Mysteries

No, I'm not advocating beginning a book with "it was a dark and stormy night" or any kind of weather report. However weather can add a lot to your story.

Lately, in the Central Valley we've been having our annual dose of Tule River fog. If you've never experienced it, it's the most frightening stuff to drive through. Sometimes you can only see a few feet in front of you and it doesn't matter if it's day or night. I drove to a city about an hour away starting at 9 a.m. Though I always knew what road I was on, I didn't really know exactly where I was. Unless a car was right in front of me or one was passing on the opposite side of the road, it was like I was on the highway by myself. On foot this can be even more unsettling. Just think of the potential for adding fog to a mystery plot. There is fog on the California coast too, but at a different time of year. I've used it to add suspense to my latest Rocky Bluff P.D. crime novel, Angel Lost, coming out in March.

A dust storm can do much the same as it blocks your vision and can make you feel like your isolated even though you may be surrounded by cars--or the bad guy is hot on your trail.

Snow is the big weather problem back East as I write this--and being snowed in with the wrong people or trapped in your car on the highway can also give you plenty of ideas for suspenseful plots.

Rain can bring the threat of flooding--again more ideas to incorporate into a book.

But what about when the weather is good? Sometimes it is--how can you use that in a mystery? A contrast is always a good tool: even though everything seems pleasant and the weather is marvelous, it's hard to keep one's mind on the threat at hand.

And from nice weather let's move on to summer, what if our story is going on during a heat wave? Think of how cranky you feel when it's too hot. You take a cool shower and come out and feel just as hot as you did when you went in. How do you treat others around you when it's hot like this? What kind of a threat can you think up that would be complicated by the temperature being too hot?

No matter what's going on in our lives, weather affects us and it should also affect your characters.

Books by Marilyn


Good info, Marilyn. I love using weather in books too. I have done floods, heavy rain, and blizzards. Like a good house or building, the weather can almost become a character onto itself.
Janet Elaine Smith, multi-genre author
Hi, Janet, so nice to have you visit. And your so right about weather almost becoming a character.

DL3 said…
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Cheryl said…
I'm reading Angel Lost now. I see exactly what you mean.

I've written a few things where blizzards--usually in the 1800's--cause problems for people.

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