Tuesday, November 23, 2010

10 Winter Writing Tips

Very cold weather in my little corner of British Columbia is somewhat rare. Remember, if you will, pictures of this year's Winter Olympics when we had cherry blossoms in February! Right now, however, we're having unseasonably cold weather. Today we're dealing with it feeling as if it's -17° C (that's 1.4° Fahrenheit).

Therefore, as I sip my hot coffee (keeping the mug far away from my keyboard) I give you 10 things to write or think about when it's cold:

10. A scene taking place on a beach. Think fruity drinks with little umbrellas and swarthy cabana boys.

9. Characters enjoying tall glasses of lemonade on a front porch as a large dog snoozes in the shade of a giant elm.

8. Embrace the cold. Since your fingers are chattering on the keyboard, write a character with a stutter. What the heck.

7. Watch a movie that takes place in a warm climate. Tell yourself you're watching it for dialogue study. See if you can convince yourself.

6. Put on your fingerless gloves and imagine you're actually on the Siberian tundra writing the next novel that will set the world aflame with its intelligence and insight. No, I don't know how being on the Siberian tundra will help, but hey, it can't hurt.

5. Admit grudgingly that the cold makes all the Christmas commercials a touch less irritating.

4. Realize making stew for dinner is a win on two fronts. First, the family enjoys a nourishing meal. Second, you get to stand over a hot stove. Appreciate how, in the winter, this is a good thing.

3. Remember how hot you were last summer and how you prayed it would cool down. Now remember 'Be careful what you wish for...'

2. As the wind howls around the house and the power flickers, get out the flashlights and the candles. At my house, there is something called 'the ugly candelabra' which is truly hideous. It was a prop in a play many, many years ago and I took it home when the theatre company was ridding itself of excess props. I've taken a great deal of ridicule over the years for keeping it, but when the power goes out; what gets grabbed? Uh-huh.

1. Always be grateful that you have a roof over your head, a working furnace (or fireplace) and a warm drink when ever you want. So many do not.


  1. There are so many true things in your post, Elspeth, especially #1.

    The soup thing gave me an idea...time to heat up the oven...make banana muffins to go with my cup of steaming coffee...yum. That's even better than fruity drinks on the beach.

  2. Number 3 gets me twice a year, no matter how many times I try to remind myself of it. :)
    Yes, cooking in the winter is more pleasant...nice oven warmth.
    Try to stay warm!

  3. Elspeth - These are such wonderful pieces of advice! They are very helpful in making the weather work for the writer. As a matter of fact, I like it when the weather is a factor in a novel. In some of them, it takes "center stage," but even when it doesn't, I like it when I can get a sense of what the the environment's like. And that includes the weather.

  4. After 30 "winters" in Florida, I'm enjoying the fact that we have seasons up here in Colorado, cold or not.

    Terry's Place
    Romance with a Twist--of Mystery

  5. Laura; I remind myself every year as well.

    Margot; I like it when weather is a factor, too. People's behaviour changes with the weather and you're right, it helps complete the picture.

    Terry; I understand your feelings - in fact where I am there's usually two seasons - raining and summer. I like winter....but just not this cold. Or, okay, this cold, but not the wind.

  6. a steaming hot bathtub, a good mystery, a small glass of Jamieson...yes, winter can be fine.

  7. Jan; You like Jameson??? Something else we share! This is getting freaky.

  8. Definitely YES to #1!
    #10 sounds like the Tiki Hut :)

  9. Carol; It DOES sound like the Tiki Hut! No wonder I liked it!

  10. Great suggestions. It's freezing even here in California, and with our huge homeless population #1 is very, very important to remember.

    I LOVE the ugly candelabra. I see the makings of a great story here-if the candelabra holds a spirit or magic or something...

  11. Anne; I've never thought about putting the ugly candelabra into a story. Hmmmm....*files away idea*


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