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: slowly fading light; increasing shadows; what’s left of the sunlight shining vibrantly red, orange, or yellow; everything darkening to purples, dark blues, and grays; remaining sunlight shining almost horizontally from the western horizon; swooping…
Smell: food grilling on bbq’s, bug spray
Touch: a cooling of the air
Sound: crickets and other night bugs begin chirping, frogs croak, outdoor ‘people’ sounds fade away (kids laughing, doors slamming, voices, music), distant…
Mood: Dusk is the sign that the day is ending. It brings about a feeling of relief as the stresses of daily life begin the turn toward rest and relaxation. Many people feel calm and peaceful at this time of day. The weather at dusk, as at any time of day, helps to influence mood. A rainy, windy dusk may cause nervousness and…
Symbolism: endings, transition, decline of life…
Possible Cliches: use of dusk to signify a dying person’s descent towards death
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.