Weather Thesaurus Entry: Mirage

WEATHER and Phenomenon 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: A mirage is a refraction phenomena where a distant object appears displaced from its true position. Hot and cold air have different densities, causing light to pass through each differently. When masses of hot on cold air are layered, light bends, creating a ‘rippling air’ effect (think about heat waves that lift off a truck hood as the engine cools, for example). This layered air…

Smell: N/A *

Taste: N/A *

Touch: N/A *

Sound: N/A *

* If the body is stressed via heatstroke, exhaustion or extreme thirst, the mind may implant the belief that smells, tastes or sounds associated with a mirage of ‘safety’ are real. One might…



Mirages can add an element of something otherworldly to a scene, or a feeling that not all is as it appears. It works well as a foreshadowing tool to alert the reader that something else is going on besides the obvious. Using the symbolism of temptation and desire can be especially powerful. Take care in using this phenomenon…


Magic, desire, temptation, the unattainable…


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, an online library packed with powerful tools to help writers elevate their storytelling.
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Cynthia Chapman Willis

Brilliant and fascinating. Weather can be such an important element to a story, but when over-done or not handled well, can ruin the writing.

Carrie Butler
8 years ago

A mirage! What a great idea. I always learn so much here. Great post! 🙂

Martha Ramirez
8 years ago

This was a VERY interesting post. Thank you!

8 years ago

You know, I never thought of using a mirage. Thank you so much for the idea!

8 years ago

I use weather a lot in my first book.

Traci Kenworth
8 years ago

One of my favorite images/ideas
about the desert. Thanks!!

erica and christy
8 years ago

This is a great idea. I love using weather that is contrasting to my character’s emotion, especially for foreshadowing. I never thought about using mirages, either. Thanks! Christy

Theresa Milstein
8 years ago

I’ve never thought of using mirages in my writing either. I’m going to think about this one.

The Golden Eagle
8 years ago

Mirages are fascinating, but I’ve never really thought of using them in my writing.

Great post!

Michael Offutt
8 years ago

I’ve seen a few mirages in my life.

Becca Puglisi
8 years ago

Another great entry, Ange. Nice job!

Matthew MacNish
8 years ago

Fonts and text look fine to me.

Natalie Aguirre
8 years ago

Wouldn’t have thought of using a mirage in a setting. What an interesting idea. Thanks.

8 years ago

Another of those posts that I file away as v.important! Thanks!

8 years ago

I’m always interested in the weather when I read, and also what the characters are eating, drinking, and the clothes they were. It’s those ordinary little details that seem to make it real to me.

E.J. Wesley
8 years ago

Love these posts, and love the point about using weather to draw contrasts and/or parallels to the character’s emotions.

I’ve been having similar issues with font/picture screwyness in Blogger as well. I’ve had to schedule a few posts from the road of late and didn’t realize things were messed up until some lovely followers pointed it out in the comments.

Angela Ackerman
8 years ago

Apologies if the fonts of pieces of this look different…on my screen, it looks fine until I go to the blogger edit window, and then it appears all screwed up. So, hopefully what you see is what I see, and it appears more or less uniform, and not a mess of font and size. If not, again, sorry about that! 🙁 #stupidfonts

Bish Denham
8 years ago

Good one. Thinking something is there that isn’t…an excellent plot manipulation.