Random thoughts about the place for weather …
In this fast-paced, brave new world of publishing, it is said that we must not linger overly much on long, boring descriptions of people, places, things, the weather, the climate, the setting or whether to put it in its place.
What to do about those long prose you fashioned with such abandon? Can you stand the thought that an editor might slash them to bits … into tiny morsels that slide across the page quickly and without effort?
What on earth do you do with all that wonderful inspiration of the local weather?
Some stories depend upon the weather … The Perfect Storm … would no longer matter without the raging winds and rains. What on earth would London have done with the freezing cold of the Alaska wilderness if Buck had to live in a short, sweat place and hurry his canine ass to the next page?
Think about all those classics you loved so much and what might happen to them if they were being edited today.
With one swipe of my keyboard I’ have transformed them into a collection of amalgams and caricatures of the once familiar, featured players in my known and unknown plots.
Snippets from Sunset Park:
A blizzard in New York is not worth a blip to the old salts in North Dakota, Minnesota, or Green Bay, Wisconsin. Not worth any notice in the frozen tundra where hearty folks play and work in the deep freeze and ice fish in small houses sitting a-top frozen bodies of water. Just another reason for me to be thankful I live in the semi-freeze of grime and pollution in New York City.
You could say grime and pollution are two of my favorite things, though not as much fun as “whiskers on kittens.” My favorite things are often the discards and left over pieces of other lives or other times. I collect them, sort and store them. I come in after the dead, after the disaster, after life has unveiled her naked truth and all is in a state of disrepair, to sweep away the debris, repair the scars, and make it whole and clean again.
When winter came, and with or without blizzards, it always came, I loved the let the chill run through my blood. Feeling a wicked chill, I could wrap myself with an old throw and sit by the windowsill watching flakes swirling and dancing in the wind, and the city lights, like sentries coming on in a series of bleeps from an unseen computer.
I love watching the snow and how it turns the concrete and asphalt of the city into a white winter wonderland, for exactly as long as it takes for the cars, buses, taxis and droves of city commuters to stomp it lifeless. Before the daylight beats down and melting oceans of gray slush appear at the corners where the sewers are always blocked.
But for now it’s beautiful to look on as it falls under the cover of darkness, against the stark yellow of the streetlights.
What should you do when the place for weather or whether or not to overly describe the place IS the story?
From a collection of short stories called The Five Seasons …
Strangers never walked up the hill from the train station. Out of town guests, a grandchild or an older sister, were picked up by family or delivered by local cab drivers, who spent their days leaning on fenders, smoking short Lucky Strike cigarettes and raising an eye brow or two for a pretty girl. Other passengers might be headed to one of the new businesses or the community college along the interstate or the big university in town. Special cabs and small trolley-type buses in bright colors, marked with the proper destinations were made available for these.
No. Strangers never walked from the train station to South Bridge Street. The only direction anyone on South Bridge Street wanted to go was out. It didn’t matter how or in which direction, didn’t even matter if a person went by train or bus or if their date took them in his shiny new yellow pick-up truck.
Past houses with sagging front porches and front yards with brown shrubs and a tangle of weeds and bare vines, Viola strode up the long hill until it leveled off on Main Street. Across Main Street and half way up the next hill, Viola stayed a few steps ahead until they reached the beginning of North Bridge Street. She turned and laughed. “Good thing you don’t mind walking.”
They continued to the end of the next hill. The first change he felt was the hush silence of the deep green lawns, the neat front yards and the pale pastel colors of flowers and shutters. It occupied an entire corner on Bridge and Mill Lane with manicured lawns, stone pathways and gardens.
The porch wrapped around from the front to the south side of the main building and afforded shade and protection from sun or rain, held rockers, a porch swing for two, several straight back chairs, tables, a ceramic gnome and hanging pots spilling over with lilac, blue sage and pale green ferns.
Painted in traditional shades of pink and sage, the gingerbread and latice work in bright white and tints of pastels, this house provided for the comfort and privacy of up to twelve paying boarders. On the second floor were eight spacious, single rooms and four private suites with attached private baths.
When it matters most to put in seasons and weather or whether a place is important to the story, do you need to rush? Is it truly the trend of today to keep all but the immediate plot moving at the speed of light? Readers today don’t like long, winding descriptions? Perhaps that is so, but readers are a funny lot. One minute they are skimming through that long passage you created with love and attention to minutia and detail … and the next they are spell-bound at the rich description of where the story takes place.
Colors, shades of pastels and brightly arranged and carefully placed adjectives that give your plot and characters a meaningful backdrop from which to jump off, may not be as prevalent today as they were in the grand Victorian Age, but each writer must make the decision as to how they can best use the setting, the place for the weather or whether or not any of it has a place in your plot.
Tell me, how do you resolved this issue when you write?
Do you suffer from long-winded prose?
Or do you tuck in all the loose ends for an easier read?
fOIS In The City