Weather Thesaurus Entry: Breeze

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).

SENSORY DESCRIPTORS:

Sight: 

A breeze will bestow the impression of fluid movement on any lightweight, freestanding objects. Fabrics, whether they are flags on flagpoles, skirts, or tablecloths on an patio bistro table, will ripple or billow in a breeze. Leaves shift, hair blows away from the face and grasses bend and rustle. A breeze can also carry things on it, dirt and dust particles, dandelion fluff or gently push at forgotten trash or dead leaves on the ground.

Smell:

Breezes carry the scent of nearby stimuli. A briny or salty scent might carry on the breeze near a beach, along with the odors of coconut scented suntan lotion and food smells from open air cart vendors (hot dogs, burgers, deep fry oil, etc). In an urban area, a breeze might have the acrid scent of motor oil, car exhaust, refuse in allies, cement and metal. In a wooded area, pine needles, earthy soil, greenery and wildflowers would be the most noticeable.

Taste:

None

Touch:

Breezes can be warm or cool and are almost always pleasing against exposed skin because of the immediate sensory input. Skin may prickle if too cool, hair can blow across the eyes and need to be tucked back, and clothing can flutter against the body. People often turn into the breeze to feel the sensation of hair blowing back and air sliding across the forehead and cheekbones. A breeze can dry the eyes, resulting in squinting or more frequent blinking

Sound:

A gentle rustle can be heard if leaves, grass or undergrowth is present. A breeze can cause a ticking sound if strong enough to sway something, such as a hanging blind cord in a window, cause gates to creak if left ajar, the flutter of curtains, etc. If there are no objects light enough for a breeze to move, there is no discernible sound.

EMOTIONAL TRIGGERS:

Mood: A breeze can lighten the mood of the characters within the setting, or pull characters out of internal thoughts or reverie. Breezes act as triggers to both the characters and readers, reminding them of the outside world and the setting, and can also act as a welcome reprieve during heat or battle.

Symbolism: Change, reminders, the supernatural/paranormal, a shift in thought, bringing about calm

Possible Cliches:  Breeze blowing hair in front of eyes to allow a POV character to self-describe the color or length

OTHER:
Breezes are strongest near oceans, known as sea breezes, and can be warm or cold depending on the season. Breezes will also distort high cloud into feathery streaks, disperse smoke in battle or break up fog/mist. A breeze running through a crop creates a wave-like effect as the grain heads nod in tandem.

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.

14 comments:

Laura Pauling said...

I love a warm breeze. Especially when I'm near the ocean and can smell the salt air or my husband calls it the dead fish smell. But for me it's so nostalgic. A breeze carrying a smell can really add to a story.

Matthew MacNish said...

One of my greatest sensory memories will always be standing on a hill at discovery park in Seattle, when I was young, and watching what a swirling breeze does to a distant field of high grass.

Breathtaking.

Kelly said...

That was a breath of fresh air. :)
Seriously, great entry. And a refreshing breeze can certainly evoke good memories!

Debbie Maxwell Allen said...

More great resources, as usual! I linked to your site (this is getting to be a habit!) when I blogged today about smells: http://bit.ly/l9GIGy

~Debbie

lil red hen said...

I'm definitely storing these thesaurus lessons in my mind for future references in my writings. They are great!

LV Cabbie said...

I'm already following this blog but just bookmarked it to add to my Reference folder.

For a long time, I've had some extensive files on descriptions but in my documents folder and bookmarks.

This is an OUTSTANDING addition to my writing library and I wish to thank you very, very much.

Angela Ackerman said...

I think breezes are especially effective to draw the reader's attention toward or away from something, and pairing a breeze with a smell is a great way to bring in some of that sensory detail that help make the setting more layered.

Thanks all!

Holly Ruggiero said...

Breezes are a great subtle weather feature.

Leslie Rose said...

I love the movement a breeze creates in a moment even when a character may be rigid. To me there is nothing like a sea breeze with the smell of salt. That says home.

Diane Fordham said...

Hello. I am an Australian writer and stumbled across your blog by pure good fortune. I'm looking forward to becoming a regular visitor - well done on your informative posts! :-)

ralfast said...

Nothing beats a gentle breeze while snoozing on a hammock at the beach.

Susanne Drazic said...

Branches swaying is a good indication of a breeze.

We have a cool breeze coming through the window right now. The cutains are softly moving back and forth as the breeze comes and goes.

Becca Puglisi said...

So glad you found us, Diane!

Aldrea Alien said...

I love this blog. So much info to excite the muse into new ways of thinking.

Thank you so much.

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