Weather Thesaurus Entry: Rain

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).

SENSORY DESCRIPTORS:

Sight: The presence of rain affects light, causing a grey, washed out look. The sky will be a blanket of dark cloud overhead, and fat droplets will leave dime sized wet patches on dry sidewalks. As rain quickens, wet darts pelt skin, buildings, cars, plants, glass, trees and roads, and creates a glossy look on smooth surfaces. Leaves and grass shake…

Smell: Rain is often accompanied by the smell of ozone (if lightning is present) and also cuts through any other local smells & pollution, leaving a fresh, crisp scent in the air.

Taste: Water, possibly an acrid aftertaste of pollution if near or in an urban area

Touch: Wet and cold go hand in hand, creating a clammy feeling of discomfort and heaviness as soaked clothing adheres to skin, hair hangs in wet slicks against the neck and forehead and water will drip into eyes and mouth. Body temperature drops, enducing shivering. Rain invades footwear and causes make up to run. Hard rain…

Sound: Rain can vary from a gentle plonking sound as it collides with foliage, earth and buildings, to a louder, more forceful drumming noise. The pitch of rain changes based on velocity and water droplet size. Glass muffles the sound of rain while metals, especially tin, can create…

EMOTIONAL TRIGGERS:

Mood: Unless following hot weather, rain triggers a flight response. To avoid the cold, pelting rain, people will hurry to find shelter to stay dry until the rain passes. If the weather has been very hot, then rain can bring about a sense of relief and release built up air pressure. In the greater setting of a book, rain can create…

Symbolism:

Depression, a heavy burden of responsibility, heavenly disfavor…

Possible Cliches:

Pairing the pain of losing a loved one with rain, having rain be a conduit to showing a morose/depressed character’s…

 

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.

About BECCA PUGLISI

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. You can find Becca online at both of these spots, as well as on Facebook and Twitter.
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11 Responses to Weather Thesaurus Entry: Rain

  1. Pamela says:

    So glad i found this site, thank you.

  2. I used to love to dance in the rain when I was a kid. Brings back sweet memories the sound of the drops hitting the bucket on your head, and the splish-splash of the puddles that would send your mother into a raving fit when you returned(just kidding, my mother encouraged us to do so.).

  3. Beth says:

    This is a great post. The cliches are hard to avoid, but I love your suggestions!

  4. D.B. Smyth says:

    SOOOO glad I read this! *opens wip and removes all cliche weather patterns* Somedays I’m such a noob!

  5. Julie Musil says:

    Another great addition to an already great thesaurus. Thanks so much!

  6. Wonderful post. I love how you broke it all down by the senses.

  7. Kelly says:

    Rain can convey so many emotions and setting depending on what kind of rain.
    A light sprinkle could be refreshing. A downpour could ruin plans. A storm could be frightening.
    Great entry!

  8. Kristen says:

    This is so right on! My first ms had a lot wind, but no other weather patterns in it, and when people would read it they would say, “Why is it always windy? The poor kid is always getting blown around.”
    Now I’m more aware of weather and I especially love your point about how heat makes everyone a little easier to boil over. Bravo.

  9. Karen Lange says:

    This is helpful! Thanks! 🙂

  10. It’s raining great writing advice in here.

  11. I actually just edited out a rain scene from my current piece. It was completely the cliched “I’m sad and now it’s raining like the pain in my heart” scene.

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