Weather Thesaurus Entry: Wind

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: leaves lightly fluttering, branches blowing, treetops bent sideways, brasses blowing, clouds drifting or racing across the sky, leaves and flowers tearing loose, debris rolling along the ground, hair and clothing whipping around…

Smell: rain, smoke

Taste: dirt, rain, sand

Touch: whipping hair stinging your face, clothes flapping around your legs and arms, chapped lips and dry skin, quick-blinking eyes to keep out debris, a loss of equilibrium as the wind buffets you off-balance, increased heat or cold depending on the…

Sound: howling/moaning/sighing, branches tapping against walls and windows, leaves rubbing together…


Mood: Light breezes are often soothing, particularly on a hot day when they offer a break from the heat. The danger of high winds can trigger anxiety as we wonder how bad the weather’s going to get and if it will affect…

Symbolism: Rising winds can symbolize a coming change in the form of something good (rain after a drought) or something bad (a hailstorm in farm country). High winds can represent destruction or approaching danger. Certain breezes can also provide a temporal clue and put the reader in a seasonal…

Possible Cliches: characters who argue in high winds despite the danger, yelling to be heard…

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. You can find Becca online at both of these spots, as well as on Facebook and Twitter.
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9 years ago

I’m one of those slack types who fills in setting later. I find the rest of the novel comes much easier. So, thanks for your posts, they give me the nudge in the ribs I need.

9 years ago

i love these posts! and how apt as it is a bit windy in LA as of the moment.

9 years ago

Reminds me of the time I heard the wind howling through the open metalwork of a huge broadcast tower. I was across a wide parking lot and across a street. Wind usually suggests “power” to me.

Rachna Chhabria
9 years ago

Thanks for sharing this wonderful post. I like the idea of using weather details, but seldom do so. Will bookmark this post.

Carrie Butler
9 years ago

Great post! I loved your point about breezes giving seasonal clues. 🙂

9 years ago

I absolutely love using weather for dramatic elements in my stories. I LOVED all your examples.

Dawn Malone
9 years ago

My WIP is set mostly outside, so this will come in handy! Thanks much!

9 years ago

Oh, thanks for this! I’m revising a scene where the MC’s hair has whipped her face about four times! (Which is three too many.)

Thanks for opening my brain to the other options.


Martha Ramirez
9 years ago

Interesting. Thank you!

Becca Puglisi
9 years ago

The windmill cliche was referring to the Don Quixote reference–tilting at windmills, and all that. I don’t see it often, but that one reference really sticks out in my mind so I wanted to flag it. 🙂

9 years ago

I do love foreshadowing! Wind sounds like an excellent way to do it. I’m jotting down those cliques though so I stay away from them. Thanks for this!

9 years ago

I love how you stress not to use the weather entry as a “window into a character’s soul.” Weather has a place in fiction, yes, but you’re right shouldn’t be used as an extension.

Angela Ackerman
9 years ago

Great picture Becca, and nicely done on this one. 🙂 Definitely the falling tree limbs and whatnot cliche that are ‘near misses’.


Angie Cothran
9 years ago

Thanks for the caution. I hadn’t thought of that before.

Matthew MacNish
9 years ago

Hmm. A windmill as a symbol for an adversary? I’ve never heard of that cliche before, but I know you know what you’re talking about, so now I’m gonna go read bout it.

Thanks, Becca!

9 years ago

This post is a light breeze on a hot day. Nicely donek, Becca!

Laura Pauling
9 years ago

That is the cutest picture! Personally, I love a warm windy day, especially right before a storm. You guys are amazing!