Weather Thesaurus Entry: Breeze
Posted by Angela Ackerman
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).
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.