Weather/Earthly Phenomena Thesaurus Entry: Sky

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: Sunrise and Sunset: When the sun rises, the horizon gets brighter, gradually turning pinkish, red, or orange until the sun is fully up and the sky’s color becomes more uniform…

Daytime: The sky can be cloudless, looking uniform from every direction as far as can be seen. It is generally a pale blue, though it also can appear gray due to heavy cloud cover, or even white when the sun is at its hottest. Clouds may occupy the sky in many forms: wispy layers, poofy formations, in feathery strokes that look painted on. Clouds themselves are usually white; storm clouds are gray. If clouds are in the sky…

The Stormy Sky: Storm clouds can pile up slowly throughout the day or in a very short period of time. They may seemingly appear all at once or move toward you in a visible line, with clouds piled up behind. Storm clouds are generally gray, though they vary in shade depending on the severity of the storm. Serious storm clouds…

Evening: At night, the sky is black, pinpricked with white stars and the moon in its various stages. If there is cloud cover, depending on its thickness, the stars and moon may be partially or completely blotted out. Other things that can be seen in the night sky…

 Smell, Taste, Touch, Sound: n/a


Mood: Because the sky is always above us wherever we are, it has a strong impact on our mood. An overcast sky can bring on gloominess or a feeling of oppression. A sunny sky might make a person more light-hearted…

Symbolism: A stormy sky often symbolizes approaching doom or danger. A clear, starry sky is often used to represent the universe and the endless potential it holds. The dismal, overcast sky…

Possible Cliches: red-sky-in-morning-sailor-take-warning-etc., the sky’s the limit…

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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18 Responses to Weather/Earthly Phenomena Thesaurus Entry: Sky

  1. Thank you for this post. The weather is such a unifying experience. Its definitely a tool that writers should tap into.

  2. Brilliant post – really inspiring. I’m going to write a poem about the weather right now. Thank you!

  3. Leslie Rose says:

    I grew up by the beach so the sky over the ocean has always fascinated me with its fickleness. Super post.

  4. ROFL at Matt’s comment.

    I’m excited to get to use the weather thesaurus again, soon. 😀

  5. Interesting. Love to see all the elements that come together to make or break our day.

  6. Interesting. Love to see all the elements that come together to make or break our day.

  7. It’s interesting to consider the ways the sky might influence a character’s decisions, by affecting their mood.

    Great post!

  8. The sky is so versatile. Great post, as always! 🙂

  9. Karen Lange says:

    I like the idea of using weather to add contrast. Mentally working on a scene in the WIP and this could add something. Thanks a bunch!

  10. Southpaw says:

    Very nice. I was just reading about interesting lighting that happens during the twilight hours.

  11. As always, wonderful and insightful post! I especially love the weather as a factor on mood–SO true! 🙂

  12. Angela Brown says:

    You mention quite a few weather cliches that I’ve seen used repeatedly but hadn’t thought about. Thanks, because this post is really helpful.

  13. I’m a sky watcher by nature…great post.

  14. Bish Denham says:

    A wonderful post Becca. In winter in the Caribbean the day-time sky can be an intense beautiful deep clear blue.

  15. This is excellent, esp. the symbolism part (heh heh, Matt)!

  16. The sky as a dome is a cliche? Oh crap …

  17. Kelly Polark says:

    I agree that the sky has an impact on one’s mood. When gray days pile up, it’s harder for some to smile! I know I seem happier and maybe even more productive on sunny days!
    Plus people certainly appreciate a beautiful sunset/sunrise or a rainbow! Or love to watch a spectacular lightning display!

  18. Rachel says:

    WOW, this post is incredible!
    Thank you; I’m off to retweet!

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