Weather Thesaurus Entry: Dusk

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: slowly fading light; increasing shadows; what's left of the sunlight shining vibrantly red, orange, or yellow; everything darkening to purples, dark blues, and grays; remaining sunlight shining almost horizontally from the western horizon; swooping bats; fireflies (in rural areas); nature is returned somewhat to its pre-human state as people move indoors

Smell: food grilling on bbq's, bug spray

Taste: n/a

Touch: a cooling of the air

Sound: crickets and other night bugs begin chirping, frogs croak, outdoor 'people' sounds fade away (kids laughing, doors slamming, voices, music), distant sounds grow louder in the silence (dogs barking, cars starting)

EMOTIONAL TRIGGERS:

Mood: Dusk is the sign that the day is ending. It brings about a feeling of relief as the stresses of daily life begin the turn toward rest and relaxation. Many people feel calm and peaceful at this time of day. The weather at dusk, as at any time of day, helps to influence mood. A rainy, windy dusk may cause nervousness and apprehension as the stormy day turns to stormy darkness. Breezy, airy dusks may lift the spirits. And context, as always, is key. Dusk in many supernatural settings brings about a totally different atmosphere of fear, danger, and impending doom.

Symbolism: endings, transition, decline of life, fading away

Possible Cliches: use of dusk to signify a dying person's descent towards death

OTHER: Clean air usually generates orange and reddish light at dusk. When the air is hazy or dusty, the color is subdued to yellows and pinks. Also, though the terms 'twilight' and 'dusk' are often used interchangeable, many sources site dusk as being the latter, darker part of the twilight period that comes between day and night.

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.

25 comments:

Elaine AM Smith said...

This is great advice. Weather can be a great foil reflect and enhance the actions and emotions being played out in words. It is so easy to shade from subtle nuances to painting by numbers. ;)

Traci Kenworth said...

One of my favorite times of the
day. So beautiful. But the
creepiness of the night that comes
down after--shudder. Lol. What can
I say--I am a horror writer, and
all sorts of scary things come out
at dusk.

Matthew MacNish said...

Red sky at night - sailor's delight. Red sky at morn - sailor's be warned (or sailor's take warning).

Bish Denham said...

In the Caribbean (particularly at the beach) dusk is the time the no-see-ums (sandflies) come out. They are near invisible and bite, bite, bite.

Angela Cothran said...

Awesome as always :)

Southpaw said...

Dusk in the rural areas is different from dusk in a city too. No crickets or dogs barking.

SP Sipal said...

Having just come back from the beach, both dawn and dusk are on my mind as they're great times to walk on the beach. The wind picks up at dusk and as there are less people on the beach, you can hear the roar of the waves more. But dawn seems to have more bird calls.

Karen Lange said...

You've got me thinking in new directions, thanks! :)

Lisa Gail Green said...

Ha ha, yes, I tend to picture dusk as more of the dark end of the spectrum. I've even described it more that way in writing (so you scared me for a moment there). :D

Carrie Butler said...

Oo, I love dusk! (Unless I'm driving, of course.) Great post, Becca! :)

Melinda S. Collins said...

I am lovin' the picture you've used to represent today's entry.

I'm with Lisa on this one -- I've always refered to dusk as the time of day where the things that 'go bump in the night' are coming out and getting ready to play. :)

Becca Puglisi said...

I love the additions everyone has for what dusk means where they live. For years, 'dusk' to me has meant dinner, kids' baths and bedtimes, lol. I had to step outside a few times this week to get a good feel for it. But I do live in a rural(ish) community in south Florida. And dusk is going to be different in different locales around the world. Thanks for the tips!

Mary Witzl said...

How Twilight-zonish: a friend and I were just talking about the word 'dusk' and how mysteriously sad it makes us feel. For me, it's the thought that yet another day is gone -- and the worry that I haven't spent it well enough.

catherinemjohnson.wordpress.com said...

Beautiful picture, and great tips!

Heather said...

I didn't know descent toward death was a dusk clique, good to know! I love all the sounds and sights you listed, they kind of made me want to witness a sunset, something I haven't done in too long... Maybe I'll have my characters do it for me. :)

Ciara said...

Beautiful picture. I agree, weather can play with a readers emotion. I found your blog via the Pay it Forward blog fest and Juliana's blog.

Becca Puglisi said...

Welcome, Clara. And thanks for letting us know where you heard about us. Now I can pop over there and say thank you.

Amy Goldman Koss said...

Nice!

Barbara Kloss said...

Okay, so I'm new and I LOVE LOVE LOVE your emotion thesaurus! Seriously. GENIUS! THANK YOU. *bows* *places crown on your head*

Becca Puglisi said...

Yay! So glad to have you, Barbara!

The Golden Eagle said...

I love the smells you listed as related to dusk. :)

Stina Lindenblatt said...

I love your explanation for mood. I'm definitely going to take this into consideration for my next project. I'm hoping to have more scenes outside. :)

Christina Lee said...

So great--a very interesting time of day. Either relief or melancholy depending on the scene and mood--thanks for the ideas!

Pat Hatt said...

Great ideas and yeah the weather can play a part, I've used it and it does work wonders for a scene at times, others times not so much.

Martha Ramirez said...

OOH VERY nice. I rarely use dusk. This helps a lot. Thank you! BTW I gave you guys a shout out on my blog today;)

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