The Pathetic Fallacy…attributing human feelings and characteristics to inanimate objects, pets, or nature (e.g. the weather).
Clearly, the technique has advantages and disadvantages. In terms of scene setting and plot, the technique can bring about greater tension and intensity through foreshadowing: hinting at what is in store. On the other hand, people can often overuse a technique to the point where it becomes a cliché – hence, lazy writing that reveals nothing new.
I admit to liking the Pathetic Fallacy, especially in regards to stormy weather. In the sample below from my current novel in progress, central character Gavin (18), a classical musician on a prestigious summer school piano course, has gone off for the day following complications with a girl on the course, Philippa. Philippa has expressed a romantic interest in Gavin before springing a nasty surprise on him, and Gavin can’t cope with the humiliation. The scene is set in the north of the UK and the thriller falls in two genres; teen fiction and mainstream adult thriller.
By this time next week, I’ll be back in South London, I told myself as I watched the river. It will as though none of this ever happened. By this time next month, I’ll be getting ready to go to uni to study music. Philippa will have gone from my life totally.
The sky changed colour, taking on dark overtones, and a blast of wind charged at me. I hurried on through light drizzle to the main lane near the railway station, searching for cover as lightning streaked across the sky, followed by downpour. Shards of rain pelted the ground, stinging my face and hands, and the wind worsened, almost blowing me over. I ran to the tea shop near the Hiker’s Pub and took shelter in there, ordering lunch and drinking tea while bursts of thunder sounded over the area and the rain went grey and wild.
Meanwhile, my debut novel Secrets by Lawrence Estrey is available from Amazon in paperback and e-book.
Check out the reviews for Secrets.
Newspaper article on author.