Weather Thesaurus Entry: Clouds

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: white, shades of gray, greenish-black, fluffy, puffy, full and thick, feathery, wispy and thin, scant, covering the whole sky…

Smell: n/a

Taste: n/a

Touch: wet, damp, misty

Sound: n/a


Mood: Different kinds of clouds can create different moods. Many people associate white fluffy clouds with happy memories. They can evoke feelings of contentment, joy, and optimism. Quick-moving clouds, usually accompanied by wind, can bring about a feeling that change may be coming. Dark, heavy thunderheads…

Symbolism: foreshadowing of ominous events to come, hiding or revealing information…

Possible Cliches: mother and child laying in the grass and finding pictures in the clouds, clouds parting to let the sun shine on a happy occasion or event, dark clouds and thunderclaps that herald…

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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6 years ago

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Laura Pauling
9 years ago

If done right weather can be a powerful tool in a story! Hard to do in a way that’s no cliche! Thanks!

9 years ago

I love clouds. They have so much character behind them.

Susan Flett Swiderski
9 years ago

Spot on observations, as always. Clouds do have a way of appearing “happy” or “oppressive” to us, and can, indeed, affect our mood.

9 years ago

Thanks for the interesting and informative post.
Donna v.

9 years ago

Clouds can serve so many emotions, I love this one! Can’t believe I never thought to use them!

Lenny Lee*
9 years ago

hi miss becca! for sure clouds are neat and could really tell about emotion stuff or could set the feeling for a scene. i just did a post a while back on clouds ahd how they could help shape ideas.i love cloud watching.
…hugs from lenny

Matthew MacNish
9 years ago

I love clouds. Unless I’m in a plane being violently tossed by turbulence.

9 years ago

The underlying concept is amazing!
Sample friendship letter

Carrie Butler
9 years ago

I loved the cloud post, Becca. So many moods associated with this one. 🙂