Writing a Snowball in Hell

Melting by AP&F from FlickrAt the moment it is, roughly, forty-kajillion degrees outside. With the air conditioner on in my apartment I manage to cool things off to the point where water only reaches a slow boil while sitting on my desk. Around one o’clock I can actually feel the heat beating in through the rather imposing blinds which cover my windows. Shirts are worn primarily as devices to move sweat around so you don’t feel too sticky. Upon stepping outside, one’s first reaction is to squint from the sun, one’s second reaction is to grimace and turn your face away from the street where the blacktop is radiating heat like a blast furnace.

And, yet, amidst all of this, I have to create ice. I have to create snow. I have to create cold.


Because the current sequence of scenes that I’m writing takes place during winter, and winter is cold.

Sounds like a simple enough concept, but it contains every aspect of this weird task called “writing” thing that I love. Or maybe every aspect that I love to ponder.

Here it is, swelteringly hot, and I’m trying to make my reader feel cold. How is this done?

Is it enough to just say that it’s winter and move on? I doubt that.

Will the correct adjectives sprinkled in give enough of a tone to the scenes? Instead of someone “smelling the air,” if they, “smell the cold air,” will winter become present?

What about the characters? Don’t their very actions help dictate that it’s cold? Being in a cold environment produces an effect on the human body. Thus, humans standing in the cold should experience those effects. Having someone shiver, or someone wince when their ears start to freeze can accomplish quite a lot.

And what if we mix all of these? What if we have someone “wince as the cold wind bites at their uncovered ears?” Adjectives and physiology can be a powerful combination.

But what does this accomplish? Does this actually convey cold weather to the reader? Or does it only remind the reader of the times they themselves have been cold?

Is it possible to write a paragraph that will let someone who has only lived in the hottest regions of earth experience what I know as cold?

Can I actually transmit thoughts to other people by putting the right combination of words together?

What exactly occurs between me having a thought then writing it down, and you reading my words and forming a thought? This is some very mystical stuff.

It is hot outside. It is cold in my story.

And sometimes I get giddy about what I do.