Metaphor: Seasons and Weather

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Autumn trees with yellow, gold, and orange leaves

One of the first metaphors I ever learned was that of weather and climate. I think it’s that way for a lot of people because of how readily available the comparison is.

  • Spring = New life.
  • Summer = Life and happiness.
  • Fall = The later part of life.
  • Winter = Death

Poor winter.

Anyway, like I said, it’s a straightforward set of metaphors. But it doesn’t have to be a case for close comparison. When someone read my book in writing group they said, “you’re using weather for weather’s sake, not as a metaphor.”

They were surprised, it seemed. It’s not that I’m alone here, or that I was doing something special, it’s just that we subconsciously expect seasons to drive the plot of our stories. But a lot of happy and tragic things happen in all of the seasons. It cheapens our plots when we rely so heavily on the easy comparison.

In no way am I suggesting that we stop using this kind of comparison, but after a few pages it becomes really obvious how the theme of your work is going to go. “Oh, this is summer, we’re happy now. Falling leaves mean we should just prepare our emotions.” Think about it this way:

  • I love downhill skiing, and you can’t easily downhill ski in summer.
  • Some of the most beautiful scenes on Earth happen in autumn.
  • People die of heat stroke every single day. Summer will happily kill you.
  • Sometimes, in spring, wildlife go absolutely berserk and cause a scene.

Comparisons are strong, but sometimes doing the opposite of your reader’s expectation is really powerful. Don’t forget, weather is a big part of life, and it impacts our daily actions more than we realize. Sometimes you can make it rain for no reason at all.

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