Weather Thesaurus Entry: Sunshine
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).
Sight: Sunshine brightens all surroundings and makes colors appear more vivid. It casts a gleam against any shiny or smooth surface and causes glittering prisms on mirrored or reflective ones. Sunlight appears to 'move' when it reflects on fluid surfaces (lakes, ponds, etc) and draws attention. Natural foliage (trees, leaves, flowers) grow toward sunlight, causing a natural 'lean' in the direction of the strongest source. Sunlight is sometimes visible as rays slanting through clouds or a canopy of trees.
Smell: Sunshine on its own does not carry a smell, but the warming properties of sunlight brings out the smells of other things. Sun-warmed stone, metal and earth all have distinctive odors. Sun creates and encourages growth of greenery, so as flowers open to the light source, the air will carry a perfumed fragrance. Likewise, sunlight warming garbage bags at the curb, dog poop on the front lawn or a rat corpse in an alleyway will enhance these negative odors as well.
Taste: No taste, but excessive sun will cause dehydration and dry mouth.
Touch: The warmth of sunlight is an extremely powerful and pleasing sensation. Hair follicles rise and skin tingles under the heat. Surfaces will warm according to their abilities to absorb and trap heat--a leather car seat can sear the skin, bare feet on pavement can turn a slow walker into a quick cat leaper to a safer surface like cool grass or a piece of shade. As body temperature increases, people will take off outer layers of clothing or even seek shade and shelter. Increased sun will bring about a sheen of sweat and gradually become discomforting if exposure it prolonged, resulting in hot and sometimes painful sunburn.
Sound: The sunlight itself carries no sound, but depending on the strength of it and the associated heat levels, animals, insects and humans may not be as active, conserving energy during the hottest part of the day, which will create an absence of sound.
Mood: Sunlight can create a languid, relaxed feeling in any scene, and naturally triggers positive emotions and thoughts. Worries seem lessened in the sunlight and encourages a good mood in those in the scene. Seen as 'good weather', sunlight often strips away any natural obstacles that could impede action. Sunlight can also create a sense of false security and safety as emotions misinterpret the wash of warmth.
Symbolism: A bright outlook, purity, life, safety, happiness, positive energy, a God's favor, summertime
Possible Cliches: Comparing sunshine to the brightness of a soul; using the feel of sunshine to induce a daydreaming state allowing the character to focus on memory/back-story
OTHER: Sunlight is critical to most growing environments, and while is present in all four season, is the strongest in Summer. Depending on the season and temperature, sunlight can act as little more than a presence of light, or it can blaze down painfully, burning anything exposed to its rays.
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.