Weather Thesaurus Entry: Winter
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).
Frost crystals coating branches and exposed metal, breath fogging the air, snow shimmering, skeletal trees, pine boughs weighed down with snow, shoveled driveways, footprints (animal & human) in the snow, snow drifts, houses, cars and buildings covered with white, snowflakes falling from the sky, icicles hanging from the eves, frost swirls coating the windows, clouds of warm air curling out of chimneys and roof vents, people bundled in thick, puffy coats, colorful scarves and warm mitts, snowmen, kids sliding down white hills, cross country ski tracks, skating rinks, red-cheeked children having a snow ball fight, Christmas lights strung up on houses, wreaths decorating doors, lawn decorations (Santa- themed, lighted deer, candy canes, etc)
Crisp, clean air, hot chocolate, ozone, fresh baked cookies and treats, cinnamon, woodsmoke, pine needles, vanilla, road salt
Candy canes, chocolate, frosted cookies, molasses, baked pumpkin pie, turkey, soups, chili
Cold air against exposed skin, zipping up a coat, tugging on boots and gloves, winding on a scarf, pushing a snow shovel, scraping a car windshield as quickly as possible, mittens growing wet, numb fingers and toes, lips drying, stamping feet for warmth, feeling light snowflakes land in one's hair, blowing on hands for warmth, rubbing hands together, the shock of cold when snow gets in the collar or up a sleeve, tugging down a hat to cover cold ears, the sudden wet and cold of a snowflake melting against the skin, turning the face away from a bitter wind or blowing snow, slipping on ice, struggling to keep balanced or save oneself from a bad fall
Winter brings almost an absence of sound--most birds have flown south, leaving only the occasional call of a goose or duck flying overhead, or the roar of a passing car. Wind must be strong to be heard as there are no leaves to resist it. Small creeks freeze over, leaving ice to obscure the burbling water. As such, the remaining sounds seem clearer and crisper--boots crunching through the snow, the sound of one's raspy breath, the rustle of fabric from a slippery outer coat, holiday music, carolers.
Using Winter as the time period in a novel provides the opportunity for characters to do some mental housekeeping. As the cold weather forces many outdoor activities to a halt and hampers travel, the mind often slows down and turns inward for reflection. Winter also provides a time when families and friends generally turn to one another for fellowship. However as people keep to the indoors, it can also lead to feelings of isolation and being trapped or confined. If you have characters who create friction, good or bad, Winter is the ideal time to force them to confront one another.
Winter commonly symbolizes death, hibernation, a period of rest, a time for reflection, endings, purity
Comparing a person's cold demeanor to winter, linking a false winter to an evil force, using winter as a term for the elderly years of one's life
Winter and snow are not mutually exclusive. There are many warmer climates where snowfall does not occur or it happens infrequently. Winter may simply mean a lack of blooming flowers and colder temperatures than normal. Always do research when world building to make sure you understand how the seasons present themselves when writing any contemporary setting. Winter does indicate shorter days, so the hours of daylight are lessened in most locations.
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.