Weather Thesaurus Entry: Sunrise


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).

SENSORY DESCRIPTORS:

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.

EMOTIONAL TRIGGERS:

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.

18 comments:

Matthew MacNish said...

You're incredible. There isn't much more to say, you've done it all.

Christina Farley said...

Very interesting points. I love the smell of Paris in the morning- fresh baked bread and coffee. Wish I could pump that into my alarm clock.

Angela Ackerman said...

Matt: you Charmer you!

Christina, that's a really good point as a possible scent because bakeries are the first ones up and moving, and so the scent of yeast would definitely be in the air in urban locations around grocery stores, doughnut shops and bakeries. And boy, do I love that smell...irresistible. :)

Marcia said...

I love that you point out the possible cliches. Terrific job, as always.

SP Sipal said...

The resources you provide on this blog are phenomenal! You hit all the detailed descriptive techniques that can get bogged down if you don't keep them fresh. Thanks so much!

Heather said...

Just reading this made me sigh. I love sunsets and you captured them perfectly. Next week I'll be on vacation and hopefully I can catch a few and take notes on them. :)

Bethany Elizabeth said...

Loved this - sunsets (all weather) can be used so well in literature, but we do have to be careful to avoid cliches. Great post!

Barbara Watson said...

A key scene in my MS takes place at sunrise so this post is incredibly timely. Thank you.

The Pen and Ink Blog said...

Thank you. A great resource and really good for stopping writer's block.

Julie Musil said...

Oh how I love a beautiful sunrise. You captured it perfectly!

Karen Amanda Hooper said...

Ah, the weather. How we love to talk (and write) about it. :)

Great advice and examples.

Becca Puglisi said...

I'm so glad you did this one. I haven't seen a sunrise in years and I truly have no desire to get up that early. Ever. So it's nice to have a record of it, just in case, lol.

Becca

Jeff King said...

I loved this one...

Carrie Butler said...

I never would've thought of the scents that "awaken" at sunrise. Thanks for the post, Angela! :)

Lisa Gail Green said...

Awesome PLUS pretty picture! What more could you ask for?

Misha said...

I really have to work the weather in a bit more with my writing, although I'm pretty sure that I'll be able to avoid the cliches.

:-)

tracikenworth said...

I love sunrises!! Thanks for the imagery to go along with one.

Karen Lange said...

I love this! It's making me want to get up early and watch the sunrise. :) Thanks for always inspiring!

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