WEATHER & EARTHLY PHENOMENA are important elements 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: The sky lightens in streaks of pink and orange and clouds are lit from the bottom in an fiery glow. Sunrise intensifies with each minutes, growing brighter and sharper, and visibility improves as night is cast off. Reflective surfaces (lakes, pools, ponds, puddles) take on the color of the sky, becoming a mirror of light, and shadows dissolve. Objects in the landscape…
Smell: As the sun warms the morning, earthy odors will emerge–soil, grass, greenery. Flower petals open, releasing their scent.
Taste: No specific tastes are associated with sunrise, unless one is enjoying a coffee or breakfast in accompaniment.
Touch: When the sun first touches skin, warmth seeps into pores causing hair follicles to respond and lift. The feel of sun on skin is pleasing and the brightness as it rises will force one’s eyes into a squint or to close…
Sound: As the sun rises, birds grow active and bird calls begin to filter into the experience. In an urban area, there would be an increase in traffic sounds…
Mood: Sunrise is often used as a transition in books, allowing the story to be anchored in the beginning of a fresh day or signify a new stage about to unfold. There is beauty in a sunrise which allows for reflection and thought on the big picture and also the internal landscape. Dawn is a wash of light across the setting, causing darkness to recede…
Symbolism: New Beginnings; entering a new stage or point in one’s journey; beauty…
Possible Cliches: Comparing the sunrise to one’s love for another…
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.
Angela is a writing coach, international speaker, and bestselling author who loves to travel, teach, empower writers, and pay-it-forward. She also is a founder of One Stop For Writers, a portal to powerful, innovative tools to help writers elevate their storytelling.
Karen Lange says
I love this! It’s making me want to get up early and watch the sunrise. 🙂 Thanks for always inspiring!
I love sunrises!! Thanks for the imagery to go along with one.
I really have to work the weather in a bit more with my writing, although I’m pretty sure that I’ll be able to avoid the cliches.
Lisa Gail Green says
Awesome PLUS pretty picture! What more could you ask for?
Carrie Butler says
I never would’ve thought of the scents that “awaken” at sunrise. Thanks for the post, Angela! 🙂
Jeff King says
I loved this one…
Becca Puglisi says
I’m so glad you did this one. I haven’t seen a sunrise in years and I truly have no desire to get up that early. Ever. So it’s nice to have a record of it, just in case, lol.
Karen Amanda Hooper says
Ah, the weather. How we love to talk (and write) about it. 🙂
Great advice and examples.
Julie Musil says
Oh how I love a beautiful sunrise. You captured it perfectly!
The Pen and Ink Blog says
Thank you. A great resource and really good for stopping writer’s block.
Barbara Watson says
A key scene in my MS takes place at sunrise so this post is incredibly timely. Thank you.
Bethany Elizabeth says
Loved this – sunsets (all weather) can be used so well in literature, but we do have to be careful to avoid cliches. Great post!
Just reading this made me sigh. I love sunsets and you captured them perfectly. Next week I’ll be on vacation and hopefully I can catch a few and take notes on them. 🙂
SP Sipal says
The resources you provide on this blog are phenomenal! You hit all the detailed descriptive techniques that can get bogged down if you don’t keep them fresh. Thanks so much!
I love that you point out the possible cliches. Terrific job, as always.
Angela Ackerman says
Matt: you Charmer you!
Christina, that’s a really good point as a possible scent because bakeries are the first ones up and moving, and so the scent of yeast would definitely be in the air in urban locations around grocery stores, doughnut shops and bakeries. And boy, do I love that smell…irresistible. 🙂
Christina Farley says
Very interesting points. I love the smell of Paris in the morning- fresh baked bread and coffee. Wish I could pump that into my alarm clock.
Matthew MacNish says
You’re incredible. There isn’t much more to say, you’ve done it all.