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: Sunshine brightens all surroundings and makes colors appear more vivid. It casts a gleam against any shiny or smooth surface and causes glittering prisms on mirrored or reflective ones. Sunlight appears to ‘move’ when it reflects on fluid surfaces (lakes, ponds…
Smell: Sunshine on its own does not carry a smell, but the warming properties of sunlight brings out the smells of other things. Sun-warmed stone, metal and earth all have distinctive odors. Sun creates and encourages growth of greenery, so as flowers open to the light source, the air will carry…
Taste: No taste, but excessive sun will cause dehydration and dry mouth.
Touch: The warmth of sunlight is an extremely powerful and pleasing sensation. Hair follicles rise and skin tingles under the heat. Surfaces will warm according to their abilities to absorb and trap heat–a leather car seat can sear the skin, bare feet on pavement can turn a slow walker into a quick cat leaper to a safer…
Sound: The sunlight itself carries no sound, but depending on the strength of it and the associated heat levels, animals, insects and humans may not be as active…
Mood: Sunlight can create a languid, relaxed feeling in any scene, and naturally triggers positive emotions and thoughts. Worries seem lessened in the sunlight and encourages a good mood in those in the scene. Seen as ‘good weather’…
Symbolism: A bright outlook, purity, life…
Possible Cliches: Comparing sunshine to the brightness of a soul…
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.
Hey, please stop by my blog to pick up your reward!
Medeia Sharif says
I love this entry for sunshine. I live in a sunny place and most of my settings are sunny as well.
Carrie Butler says
I love your blog!
Today, I paid tribute to it in mine: http://soyoureawriter.blogspot.com/2011/06/thesaur-ish-thursday.html
Have a good one! 🙂
Jeff King says
Great pic… and awesome post. thx
E.J. Wesley says
Awesome write up as usual, Ange!
I actually stopped by to say ‘thank you’ for your support during my A-Z blogging month. I’ve created a fun “no strings attached” blog award for you and all of the other awesome bloggers who offered feedback and encouragement.
You can view the award and my thank you note here:
Hope you are well and that I see you around in the future!
Excellent. I loved this entry. Beautifully written, and SO concise!
The Golden Eagle says
Another great post–this is an awesome thesaurus!
I love contrast between the weather/character’s emotions. I find it can lead me to wonder what’s going to happen; if it means something, or if it’s just coincidence.
Now I feel all wonderful and warm! I love this one. Perfect for the coming of summer. Which will hopefully reach where I live, someday…
Leslie Rose says
Love this. I will be referring to the Weather Thesaurus over and over. It’s inspiring. The sun evokes power for me and makes me think of sun gods in mythology.
Debbie Maxwell Allen says
Reading these entries always inspires me to strengthen my scenes. Thank you so much!
lil red hen says
These are very helpful — thanks for your continued good work.
Angela Ackerman says
Aw Trisha, I’m sorry about that. But it is a good point that sun can also be strength and will-sapping, too.
Lisa, all I do is capture a bunch of leprechauns, lock them in the cellar, poke them with unicorns mercilessly until they type out each entry with bleeding fing– er, I mean, it’s all me of course! *nervous smile* *kicks cellar door*
Lisa Gail Green says
ANOTHER great one!! How do you do it?
Shannon O'Donnell says
Love this, love the “Conceited” entry below this, love The Bookshelf Muse!! 🙂
Susanne Drazic says
Wonderful post, as usual.
I think you can “taste” the sun in a a warm tomato, just picked of the vine. The best way to eat them.
This is going to be another great resource! I love the emotional triggers!
Stina Lindenblatt says
Wow, I just love this new thesaurus. 😀
I could almost feel the beat of the sunshine on my shoulder blades. You’re right, it can serve a dual purpose. It can enrich our lives, or make us cripple under its rays.
Matthew MacNish says
ForeSHADOWING. Get it?
Just kidding. I do love how sunlight is absolutely unlike any other light. There is nothing as pure or as powerful as sunlight.
Unless you’re a vampire.
Laura Pauling says
Thanks for all your hard work! 🙂
For me, sunshine triggers depression. LOL. Unless it’s a nice mild spring sunshiney day. I can’t stand the heat of summer though. GAHHH!
Susan Flett Swiderski says
Great posting, as always. I especially like the image of doing the “cat leap” from hot pavement onto the cool grass.