• Blog,  For Writers,  WIP Wednesday

    Using Weather to Set the Tone in your Writing (WIP Wednesday)

    It’s time once again for Work In Progress Wednesday, the weekly link-up where we talk about our stories! This week’s theme is: Some Weather We’re Having! 

    What’s the weather like in your fictional world? Show us snippets of your best sunsets, your most temperamental thunderstorms; mood boards of your constellations or cloudy skies!

    I definitely use weather to set the mood and tone for my story. There are so many ways you can use a stormy sky or sunny day or sudden influx of toaster-oven-sized-hail in a scene.

    Weather can be used to reflect a character’s current mood.

    Use weather as a mirror. Weather can reflect a character’s mood, whether they’re grumpy, or scattered, or raging, or indecisive. Think of how many movies set their final scenes in a gushing rainstorm or blackest night that, once the villain has been defeated, recedes so the sun can shine down once again. (Literally, The Lion King, Beauty and the Beast, and Harry’s defeat of Voldemort in Deathly Hallows all come to mind.)

    Or, weather can be used as a tool, to warn the reader about what’s coming next.

    Something unique I’m trying to do with my MS is that, if it’s raining during a scene, you can’t trust the conclusion the character’s coming to. Someone is lying, or they’re operating under a falsehood, or their perceptions of what’s going on are just not quite right.

    The ominous rolling of thunder clouds in the distance can alert a reader that something terrible lurks on their horizon.

    Weather can also provide extra details to flesh out a scene.

    Stormy skies don’t always have to be symbolic or reflective of your character’s tumultuous inner state; sometimes, your characters just need to have some squelching socks they need to deal with.

    Think about how many scenes in Harry Potter are accompanied by rainy, drippy conditions on the Hogwarts grounds. Harry tracking mud through the castle. His robes sodden. That Quidditch game where it rained so badly he couldn’t see through his glasses. Weather brings Hogwarts to life, and the little ways in which the pouring rain or gusting windstorms affect the characters are details that make the story tactile and vibrant.

    Anyway, them’s my thoughts on using weather. Let’s get to the snippets!

  • For Writers

    10 Harry Potter Related Questions to Flesh Out Your Characters

    Show of hands: who has taken Pottermore’s Patronus TestShow of hands: who has taken it multiple times because they don’t like any of their results? Well, as much as we love sorting ourselves into Houses, finding our wand size, make, and core, and, now, discovering what completely arbitrary creature will protect us from Dementors, it turns out the same techniques we use to insert ourselves into the world of Harry Potter can be used to flesh out our characters as well!

    If you’re well-versed in the Harry Potter world, it can be tons of fun to imagine what your own original characters might do if let loose on the Hogwarts grounds. Lots of people sort their characters into the Hogwarts houses — the studious into Ravenclaw, the brave and reckless into Gryffindor, the ambitious into Slytherin, and the loyal and hard workers into Hufflepuff. But there’s so much more you can do beyond sticking an imaginary Sorting Hat onto your characters’ noggins.

    Take a character from your WIP and see if you can answer the following questions about them. Writing down detailed responses, even expanding your answers into scenes, will help kick your creativity into overdrive, and might teach you something about your characters you hadn’t realized before!

  • For Writers

    Clean Up Your Draft By Eliminating Crutch Words

    Today we’re tackling crutch words.

    A quick and easy editing tip you see all over the internet is to eliminate crutch words like “was”, “had”, and “that” from your writing. These words sneak into your writing and take the place of stronger, more exciting verbs. Basically, they detach the reader from the action of the sentence; eliminating them creates more intimacy and immediacy in your writing.

    After I’ve churned out my first draft, I’ll do a Find-and-Replace in my document that bolds each occurrence of whatever crutch word I’m currently battling: usually was, had, that or just. Then I’ll print the document out, take it outside, and attack, tweaking and snipping and scouring each sentence until I’ve rid myself of as many of these pesky pests as possible.

    Practical Application: The Elimination of “Was”

    In this particular scene I’m showing you today, my mission was to study every instance of “was” in my writing and decide how I could best eliminate it, making my writing clearer and more creative. Setting yourself specific tasks like this can jumpstart creativity during editing sessions: giving yourself a problem to solve, a restriction in which to work in, forces your brain into action. (A great tip for if you’ve been stuck staring at your Word document for hours, idly scrolling, occasionally making vague grunts.)

    Okay. This is the beginning of a chapter in the second book of my fantasy WIP. A supernatural disaster hits the town while my characters are sleeping, trapping them in their dreams; in nightmares of their own creation. It’s rough, and silly, and stop looking at me okay?? Anyway. cracks knuckles


    Charley was dreaming he was back in the bar, dancing with the girl from that night.

    So my MC is having a dream. This sentence is weak, relying on “was” for two of its verbs. Here’s what I replaced it with:


    His dreams took Charley back to the Brew House, into the arms of the woman he’d danced with earlier that evening.

    Easy enough elimination, serviceable for our purposes!