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).
There are two different kinds of eclipses: LUNAR and SOLAR.
Lunar Eclipses: In the presence of light, everything casts a shadow, including planets. The Earth’s shadow stretches nearly a million miles, far enough to touch the Moon. This is what happens when the Earth passes between the moon and the sun. As the moon orbits the Earth, it falls into the Earth’s shadow, which will turn a quadrant of the moon dark. As the moon continues its orbit…
Solar Eclipses: A solar eclipse occurs when the moon passes between the Earth and the sun, and the moon’s shadow is cast over the Earth’s surface. The position of the three players will determine if the eclipse is total or partial.
- A total eclipse happens when a new moon is positioned directly between the Earth and the sun. These conditions occur about every year and a half and cause the moon to block out the sun completely. But the effect…
- A partial eclipse occurs when the moon, sun, and earth are not lined up perfectly…
During a solar eclipse, the sky darkens as the moon slowly moves in front of the sun, blocking out light and casting the moon’s shadow on the earth. When the moon has moved directly in front of the sun, the sun’s corona will be seen shining around the moon…
Mood: Eclipses are infrequent occurrences, and so inspire in viewers a feeling of anticipation. The sun and moon are unshakeable fixtures in our sky; when they suddenly look different, it can bring about a variety of responses: excitement, awe, anxiety…
Symbolism: mystical events, synchronicity, the coming together of two things…
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.
Leslie Rose says
I’m with Laura on the Lady Hawke love. I know we can completely explain eclipses scientifically, but they still have that marvelous element of magic – dark vs. light.
Karen Lange says
I like this – thanks a bunch! I especially like the emotional triggers. Very good food for thought.
Have a great weekend!
Theresa Milstein says
I try to incorporate weather, but I never thought of using an eclipse. Hmmm.
I love these posts! They always give me some new idea. 🙂
Laura Pauling says
I remember Lady Hawke. Such a wonderful movie. 🙂 Guess I dated myself too.
I love when weather is used in stories in the right way. It adds so much. I think that’s b/c so much sensory details and imagery comes with it.
Robyn Campbell says
This is excellent! The images are fantastic. I just got an awesome idea for a book I want to work on. Thanks for all you two do. What writer could live their entire writing life and not visit the Bookshelf Muse? *waving* xoxo
Dane Zeller says
Maybe I shouldn’t have used “isobars” in my last novel.
Cynthia Chapman Willis says
I love eclipses, but I don’t think I’ve ever included either in any of my writing. I should do something about that.
The Golden Eagle says
I’ve always wanted to watch an eclipse from start to finish. At least I can settle for writing about them! 🙂
Gwynneth White says
In the second novel in my trilogy, I am using a total solar eclipse as a sign that a prophecy is about to be fulfilled. So I really like this post and especially the images. Thank you.
Angela Ackerman says
I agree, it’s an event that could be used in many ways–as a way to show a timeline, as a trigger for an event, etc.
I think the only cliche I can think of is it being tied to the demonic …I can think of a few movies where the eclipse was a signal for the Devil to rise if not thwarted, or a portal to Hell to open, that sort of thing.
Carrie Butler says
Oo, I love this entry! The visuals really add to it. 🙂
There’s lots of great things you can do with solar/lunar eclipses. Just got an idea!! Wow, thanks!!