For Writers/Obsessives: Names and Weather

In the realm of fiction, the concept of ‘plausibility’ is a tricky little bastard.  Unless you’re writing about dimensionless plasma dragons beyond all mortal physics and continuity, it’s going to be a sticky wicket to lie just right so that your reader swallows it while still being swept away in the unique fantasy world you’ve crafted.

Even real life often comes off unlikely on the page.  Who among us young, shiftless, creative types has not tried to shoehorn into a plot some personally lived-through story that began with neutral spirits and come away muttering “Naw…. bullshit”?

As I said, a sticky wicket.  I’ll say it again if pressed.

Point being, it’s important to give some air of real life to your stories by recreating the milieu they take place in.  Character and setting greatly factor into this.  A couple of resources for this I came across tonight:

Weather History: The Weather Underground kindly provides historical weather information.  Punch in city, state (or zipcode or airport code) and the date you’re looking for and they’ve got what the weather was like clear back to the 1940s.  This is clutch for scenarios which integrate historical events.  Never again begin your lone gunman love story in Dealy Plaza with “It was a dark and stormy night…”

Popular Names Since 1879: Sure, everyone is named Jaden or Braden or UltraPeanut these days but naming an old guy ‘Tyler’ is going to fall flat and drag your story down with it.  Look up the top 200 from the approximate date of birth of your characters and pull from there.  It all feels less stalkery than combing through friends’ Facebook friends.

Both resources are fairly U.S.-centric but, well, tough luck, Nigel.  Post what you use that delivers more Basils and rainfall over Slough in the comments.

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