WEATHER is an important element in any setting, providing sensory texture and contributing to the mood the writer wishes to create in a scene. With a deft touch, weather can enhance the character’s emotional response to a specific location, it can add conflict, and it can also (lightly) foreshadow coming events.
However, caution must accompany this entry: the weather should not be used as a window into a character’s soul. The weather can add invisible pressure for the character, it can layer the SCENE with symbolism, it can carefully hint at the internal landscape, but it must never OVERTLY TELL emotion. Such a heavy-handed approach results in weather cliches and melodrama (a storm raging above a bloody battle, a broken-hearted girl crying in the rain).
Sight: A breeze will bestow the impression of fluid movement on any lightweight, freestanding objects. Fabrics, whether they are flags on flagpoles, skirts, or tablecloths on an patio bistro table, will ripple or billow in a breeze. Leaves…
Smell: Breezes carry the scent of nearby stimuli. A briny or salty scent might carry on the breeze near a beach, along with the odors of coconut scented suntan lotion and food smells from open air cart vendors (hot dogs, burgers, deep fry oil, etc). In an urban area, a breeze might have…
Touch: Breezes can be warm or cool and are almost always pleasing against exposed skin because of the immediate sensory input. Skin may prickle if too cool, hair can blow across the eyes and need to be tucked back, and clothing can flutter against the body. People often…
Sound: A gentle rustle can be heard if leaves, grass or undergrowth is present. A breeze can cause a ticking sound if strong enough to sway something, such as a hanging blind cord in a window, cause gates…
Mood: A breeze can lighten the mood of the characters within the setting, or pull characters out of internal thoughts or reverie. Breezes act as triggers to both the characters and readers, reminding them…
Symbolism: Change, reminders, the supernatural/paranormal…
Don’t be afraid to use the weather to add contrast. Unusual pairings, especially when drawing attention to the Character’s emotions, is a powerful trigger for tension. Consider how the bleak mood of a character is even more noticeable as morning sunlight dances across the crystals of fresh snow on the walk to work. Or how the feeling of betrayal is so much more poignant on a hot summer day. Likewise, success or joy can be hampered by a cutting wind or drizzling sleet, foreshadowing conflict to come.
Weather is a powerful tool, helping to foreshadow events and steer the emotional mood of any scene.
Need more detail regarding this weather element? Good news! This thesaurus has been integrated into our new online library at One Stop For Writers. There, not only has the information in each entry been enhanced and expanded, we’ve also added scenarios for adding conflict and tension. The entire thesaurus is also cross-referenced with our many other descriptive collections for easy searchability. Registration is free, so if you’re interested in seeing a sampling of the fully updated Weather and Earthly Phenomenon Thesaurus, head on over to One Stop.
Becca Puglisi is an international speaker, writing coach, and bestselling author of The Emotion Thesaurus and its sequels. Her books are available in five languages, are sourced by US universities, and are used by novelists, screenwriters, editors, and psychologists around the world. She is passionate about learning and sharing her knowledge with others through her Writers Helping Writers blog and via One Stop For Writers—a powerhouse online library created to help writers elevate their storytelling.
Aldrea Alien says
I love this blog. So much info to excite the muse into new ways of thinking.
Thank you so much.
Becca Puglisi says
So glad you found us, Diane!
Susanne Drazic says
Branches swaying is a good indication of a breeze.
We have a cool breeze coming through the window right now. The cutains are softly moving back and forth as the breeze comes and goes.
Nothing beats a gentle breeze while snoozing on a hammock at the beach.
Diane Fordham says
Hello. I am an Australian writer and stumbled across your blog by pure good fortune. I’m looking forward to becoming a regular visitor – well done on your informative posts! 🙂
Leslie Rose says
I love the movement a breeze creates in a moment even when a character may be rigid. To me there is nothing like a sea breeze with the smell of salt. That says home.
Holly Ruggiero says
Breezes are a great subtle weather feature.
Angela Ackerman says
I think breezes are especially effective to draw the reader’s attention toward or away from something, and pairing a breeze with a smell is a great way to bring in some of that sensory detail that help make the setting more layered.
LV Cabbie says
I’m already following this blog but just bookmarked it to add to my Reference folder.
For a long time, I’ve had some extensive files on descriptions but in my documents folder and bookmarks.
This is an OUTSTANDING addition to my writing library and I wish to thank you very, very much.
lil red hen says
I’m definitely storing these thesaurus lessons in my mind for future references in my writings. They are great!
Debbie Maxwell Allen says
More great resources, as usual! I linked to your site (this is getting to be a habit!) when I blogged today about smells: http://bit.ly/l9GIGy
That was a breath of fresh air. 🙂
Seriously, great entry. And a refreshing breeze can certainly evoke good memories!
Matthew MacNish says
One of my greatest sensory memories will always be standing on a hill at discovery park in Seattle, when I was young, and watching what a swirling breeze does to a distant field of high grass.
Laura Pauling says
I love a warm breeze. Especially when I’m near the ocean and can smell the salt air or my husband calls it the dead fish smell. But for me it’s so nostalgic. A breeze carrying a smell can really add to a story.