Weather Thesaurus Entry: Sunrise
Posted by Angela Ackerman
WEATHER & EARTHLY PHENOMENA are important elements 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: The sky lightens in streaks of pink and orange and clouds are lit from the bottom in an fiery glow. Sunrise intensifies with each minutes, growing brighter and sharper, and visibility improves as night is cast off. Reflective surfaces (lakes, pools, ponds, puddles) take on the color of the sky, becoming a mirror of light, and shadows dissolve. Objects in the landscape between an observer and the sunrise location (tree outlines, hills/mountains) can appear momentarily stark black in comparison as the sun first rises. Dew, shiny leaves, polished metal, windows--anything moistened by humidity or reflective will collect the brightness and color of sunrise. Pinks and purples give way to orange which in turn lightens into gold. Skin tones brighten and the different hues in hair are highlighted when someone faces the sun.
Smell: As the sun warms the morning, earthy odors will emerge--soil, grass, greenery. Flower petals open, releasing their scent.
Taste: No specific tastes are associated with sunrise, unless one is enjoying a coffee or breakfast in accompaniment.
Touch: When the sun first touches skin, warmth seeps into pores causing hair follicles to respond and lift. The feel of sun on skin is pleasing and the brightness as it rises will force one's eyes into a squint or to close, allowing other senses (warmth, sounds) to relay the experience instead.
Sound: As the sun rises, birds grow active and bird calls begin to filter into the experience. In an urban area, there would be an increase in traffic sounds (squeaky car breaks, revving motors, horns) as early rises head to work.
Mood: Sunrise is often used as a transition in books, allowing the story to be anchored in the beginning of a fresh day or signify a new stage about to unfold. There is beauty in a sunrise which allows for reflection and thought on the big picture and also the internal landscape. Dawn is a wash of light across the setting, causing darkness to recede, and in characters, can be a moment where their choices and mistakes can be forgotten and forgiven and they are able to forge ahead, renewed. Sunrise is a powerful feature in setting, so always use it with intent, and never overuse it. Sometimes the meaning of dawn is inverted, and is the transition point marking something terrible to come.
Symbolism: New Beginnings; entering a new stage or point in one's journey; beauty; God; Life; Renewal; Hope; Spirit; Peace
Possible Cliches: Comparing the sunrise to one's love for another; comparing one's beauty to the sunrise; dawn signalling/or being the backdrop for the start of an epic battle
OTHER: This one's pretty simple--rises in the east. Time that this event occurs is dependent on the location and date/season.
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.