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 change to yellow, orange, and red, and begin to fall. The fruit of many trees ripen and will also fall to the ground if not harvested. In some places, the grass begins to fade to brown. The rains lessen and the wind picks up, blowing fallen leaves over the roads and into drifts and ditches. Farmer’s markets and…
Smell: baking apples and pumpkin, cinnamon, crisp…
Taste: various apple and pumpkin baked goods (pies, muffins, cookies, etc.)…
Touch: cool air (particularly at night), increased winds, chill bumps rising on the skin, the crunch of dead leaves underfoot…
Sound: the sighing wind, branches scraping the house, leaves skittering over the road, geese honking as they fly overhead, an axe…
Mood: For many people, fall is a welcome break from the heat of summer and reminds them that change is coming. As such, fall can bring about a sense of optimism. With Halloween and Thanksgiving…
Symbolism: the declining years of life, aging, abundance and gratitude…
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.
Leslie Rose says
Fall here in California barely exists. It’s a mind twist. The calendar says wear sweaters, but the 100 degree weather says, no. Everyone should experience fall in New England. It has a tangible presence.
Robyn Campbell says
I love to swim. *boohoo* But. I love to ride my horses and it’s too hot in the summer for that. This really brought me into the sounds and sights of fall. It’s great to be alive!
<3 you guys. :-)
Terrific post. I grew up in Minnesota, where weather is perpetually a hot topic…so it definitely appears in my fiction. I find that visiting, or at least imagining, the climate makes for believable, original prose.
Tommy Kovac says
I love this post! And now I want a pumpkin muffin. Love the tips regarding how to use these details, and how NOT to use these details. 😉
Perhaps I should have gone for a world with less snow in it. English doesn’t have enough words for snow. Still, you can’t choose the weather, the weather chooses you…
Martha Ramirez says
LOVE the fall. Beautiful pic and love the all the sensory desrip you added. Ahhhh
Gail Shepherd says
Definitely doing this in my WIP: fall features prominently. You could almost say it’s a character. Kidding! But yeah.
Julie Musil says
That photo is gorgeous! I live in So Cal, so our falls aren’t quite the same. Right now I’m wearing a sleeveless shirt, shorts, and all my windows are open 😀
I love the emotional triggers, those are great! And the cliques are ones I might not have thought of, thank you!
Loree Huebner says
Love the smells.
Just went apple-picking yesterday and then got some pumpkins. The pumpkins we grew are almost ready to turn orange–it really is an exciting time of year if you’re into growing and harvesting.
Matthew MacNish says
My favorite part of fall (besides football): wearing jeans and hooded sweatshirts.
Wonderful description of fall here. My favorite time of year, and your comment about the season being different in different parts of the country is timely for me, because my settings always end up being places totally different from Iowa, lol.
Holly Ruggiero says
I love the fall, your post makes me want to make apple pie right now!
Kelly Polark says
Fall is definitely a season for the senses. The colors are so vibrant. The smell of burning leaves is one of my faves. And the crisp, cool air on my face while I take a walk in the neighborhood is refreshing!
Angela Ackerman says
Great job on this! I could hear those geese flying overhead especially–I love close to a river and so we are on a migratory path for many birds. This sound is a staple for fall in Canada.
Natalie Aguirre says
That’s a great point about knowing your setting. Because you’re right Florida and Texas and other states don’t have the same Fall as the Midwest and East coast.
Carrie Butler says
Those smells would be heavenly right about now. Great post, Becca! 🙂