Weather Thesaurus Entry: Fall

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: Leaves change to yellow, orange, and red, and begin to fall. The fruit of many trees ripen and will also fall to the ground if not harvested. In some places, the grass begins to fade to brown. The rains lessen and the wind picks up, blowing fallen leaves over the roads and into drifts and ditches. Farmer's markets and roadside stands crop up with fresh fall produce: pumpkins, squash, apples, pears, corn. Football season is evident by the increased number of jerseys being worn and kids outside tossing the pigskin. Fall decorations make an appearance (scarecrows, hay bales, gourds, Indian corn, Halloween decor).

Smell: baking apples and pumpkin, cinnamon, crisp cool air, wood smoke

Taste: various apple and pumpkin baked goods (pies, muffins, cookies, etc.), candy corn

Touch: cool air (particularly at night), increased winds, chill bumps rising on the skin, the crunch of dead leaves underfoot, knobby pumpkins, scratchy hay bales

Sound: the sighing wind, branches scraping the house, leaves skittering over the road, geese honking as they fly overhead, an axe chopping firewood, a fire's crackle, the scrape of rakes piling up leaves

EMOTIONAL TRIGGERS:

Mood: For many people, fall is a welcome break from the heat of summer and reminds them that change is coming. As such, fall can bring about a sense of optimism. With Halloween and Thanksgiving firmly entrenched in the autumn season, fall often puts people in an anticipatory mood, knowing that good family times are right around the corner.

Symbolism: the declining years of life, aging, abundance and gratitude, nature's bounty

Possible Cliches: ?

OTHER: When describing fall, remember your location. The descriptions here are the typical ones, but many locations don't see these changes. In south Florida, hardly any leaves change color, and it doesn't really get cool until October or November, when the weather bounces back and forth between pleasant and hot. In cold climates, fall may be shorter than the calendar's three months, with the weather charging right into winter. Wherever your story takes place, be sure to research your setting to keep the details true.

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:

Carrie Butler said...

Mmm...

Those smells would be heavenly right about now. Great post, Becca! :)

Natalie Aguirre said...

That's a great point about knowing your setting. Because you're right Florida and Texas and other states don't have the same Fall as the Midwest and East coast.

Angela Ackerman said...

Great job on this! I could hear those geese flying overhead especially--I love close to a river and so we are on a migratory path for many birds. This sound is a staple for fall in Canada.

Angela

Kelly Polark said...

Fall is definitely a season for the senses. The colors are so vibrant. The smell of burning leaves is one of my faves. And the crisp, cool air on my face while I take a walk in the neighborhood is refreshing!

Holly Ruggiero said...

I love the fall, your post makes me want to make apple pie right now!

Stacy said...

Wonderful description of fall here. My favorite time of year, and your comment about the season being different in different parts of the country is timely for me, because my settings always end up being places totally different from Iowa, lol.

Matthew MacNish said...

My favorite part of fall (besides football): wearing jeans and hooded sweatshirts.

Kristen said...

Just went apple-picking yesterday and then got some pumpkins. The pumpkins we grew are almost ready to turn orange--it really is an exciting time of year if you're into growing and harvesting.

Loree Huebner said...

Love the smells.

Heather said...

I love the emotional triggers, those are great! And the cliques are ones I might not have thought of, thank you!

Julie Musil said...

That photo is gorgeous! I live in So Cal, so our falls aren't quite the same. Right now I'm wearing a sleeveless shirt, shorts, and all my windows are open :D

Gail Shepherd said...

Definitely doing this in my WIP: fall features prominently. You could almost say it's a character. Kidding! But yeah.

Martha Ramirez said...

LOVE the fall. Beautiful pic and love the all the sensory desrip you added. Ahhhh

dadwhowrites said...

Perhaps I should have gone for a world with less snow in it. English doesn't have enough words for snow. Still, you can't choose the weather, the weather chooses you...

Tommy Kovac said...

I love this post! And now I want a pumpkin muffin. Love the tips regarding how to use these details, and how NOT to use these details. ;)

augustmclaughlin said...

Terrific post. I grew up in Minnesota, where weather is perpetually a hot topic...so it definitely appears in my fiction. I find that visiting, or at least imagining, the climate makes for believable, original prose.

Robyn Campbell said...

I love to swim. *boohoo* But. I love to ride my horses and it's too hot in the summer for that. This really brought me into the sounds and sights of fall. It's great to be alive!

<3 you guys. :-)

Leslie Rose said...

Fall here in California barely exists. It's a mind twist. The calendar says wear sweaters, but the 100 degree weather says, no. Everyone should experience fall in New England. It has a tangible presence.

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