Weather Thesaurus Entry: Forest Fire
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: Forest fires can span a hundred feet or hundreds of miles. Thick, sooty columns of charcoal grey blot out the sky, and orange flames lick tall trees, engulf grassy fields and chew though dry undergrowth. At ground level, the air is clotted with smoke and ash and from above, flames paint a ragged line, decimating wooded areas. Animals flee before it, and little survives within it.
Smell: Soot, ash, smoke, pitch, burning wood (cedar, poplar, oak, pine)
Taste: Grit, acrid ash, smoke that creates a build up of charcoal-like gunk in the mouth and lungs
Touch: Painful heat that will sear and blister skin, burn exposed flesh and char sensitive lung tissue with every breath if close. Ash falls like snow, and sparks fly, white hot stings wherever they land
Sound: The crackle of burning wood, the roar and snap of the flame, and the crash of timbers collapsing as flame engulfs everything
Mood: A forest fire can create a sudden and devastating situation that heightens anxiety levels and pits characters in a fight for their lives. Fire leaves no prisoners--it burns, eradicates, kills. In the backdrop of such an event, all desires, conflicts and goals are forgotten as people train their energy on the only thing that matters--survival.
Symbolism: A heavenly Scourge to wash the spirit clean through fire; Man vs Nature, an impossible foe; death
Possible Cliches: ?
OTHER: Forest Fires can happen anywhere at any time, but most occur during the dry summer months. Forest fire can be a product of man, or nature...however statistically most are caused by lightning strikes.
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.