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: kids playing outside, sprinklers on, people wearing tank tops/shorts/flip-flops, crowded pools and beaches, people fanning themselves, panting dogs, heat waves rising off the concrete, sunny days with intermittent showers and thunderstorms, lush green plants…
Smell: meat grilling on the bbq, sunscreen, bug spray…
Taste: sweat, sunscreen, salt water, ice cream, watermelon…
Touch: sting of mosquitoes, sweat trickling down your face, clothes that stick to you, sunburn, too-hot asphalt, breezes that are warm and cloying, the shock of cold as you jump into a pool…
Sound: the whir of oscillating and overhead fans, a/c humming, children laughing/running/squealing, thunder, falling rain, water splashing at the pool, fireworks booming…
Mood: Many peoples’ memories of summer revolve around summer vacation, picnics, barbecues, and staying up late. Summer evokes happiness and nostalgia…
Symbolism: childhood, innocence, freedom…
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.
Medeia Sharif says
Very evocative. So many sights, sounds, and other sensations came to mind as I read this.
Stina Lindenblatt says
Groan. It’s definitely the furthest thing from summer here. 🙁
Mirka Breen says
Nice! You made my least favorite season come alive, and I almost like it.
I’m reminded of the late Sid Fleischman’s suggestion to ‘give a weather report.’
Gail Shepherd says
And *my* favorite part of your posts is the warning about cliches. I usually spot at least one cliche hole I’ve fallen into. It’s like you’ve thrown me a rope to pull myself out!
Kelly Hashway says
My favorite parts of your posts are always the contrasts at the end. I guess I really like contrast in my stories. 🙂 As always, great post.
Becca Puglisi says
Ah, yes. The flowers. Thanks, Janet!
Angela Ackerman says
Great post, Becca. And if anyone knows summer, it’s you living down in Florida! 🙂
makes me yearn for summer again. You could also add to smell the scent of flowers. In my MG manuscript the smell of honeysuckle plays a large part in my story.
Stacy Green says
This is a great reminder, especially with the cold weather set it. Both my books are set in the summer, so this couldn’t have come at a better time.
So true that these seasonal and weather cues vary by region and era! Thanks for what you do.
I gotta figure out how to favorite this–my ms takes place in summer and I can always use help in the sensory stuff. Love the grilling, too! Forgot about that.
Traci Kenworth says
I can almost feel those steaming
sidewalks, smell chicken barbecuing
on the grill, and children laughing as they run through sprinklers. Ah,
such a good time compared to the 2-5
inches of the “other” season headed
our way today.
I didn’t know *weather* or not I should leave a comment, but after wandering your site, I’m like wow!
Mahalo for all that you do to help the thousands of writers you’ll never meet.
Regards, and aloha!