I need my characters to be in an intense fight, the cliche "wind blowing and storms in the background" stuff. I want to know how to properly set the mood for this scene, as I just abruptly started the chapter/scene with "thunder cracked and wind blew."

Is there a specific way to fix this?

  • I've removed the 'mood' tag and added the 'atmosphere' tag, since they mean basically the same thing in this context. You should try to avoid making new tags whenever possible. Oct 28, 2017 at 21:23

3 Answers 3


If you're in a single character's viewpoint, you can use the viewpoint to convey the information.

At the start of the scene, the character has some intentions. How does the weather affect those intentions? Given the intentions, the character would notice certain things about the weather. Sensory details. How does the weather look, sound, smell, taste, and feel?

And the character would have some reaction to those sensory details, and the impact they might have, and how significant they are. The character would have opinions about the weather, given what the character is trying to accomplish.

Exercise 1. Try this exercise, which I learned from numerous of Kristine Kathryn Rusch's writing workshops:

Put your character in some specific place in that weather. Whatever the character's current intentions, those intentions are in the front of the character's mind.

Then write six paragraphs about that scene.

  • In the first paragraph, use only the sense of sight.
  • In the second paragraph, use only the sense of touch.
  • In the third paragraph, use only the sense of sound.
  • In the fourth paragraph, use only the sense of taste.
  • In the fifth paragraph, use only the sense of smell.

In the sixth paragraph, use all five senses.

Write them as six individual descriptions of the same scene, as if you had thrown away the previous paragraphs.

This exercise gives you lots of vivid sensory details that you can use in your scene.

Exercise 2. Another helpful exercise (also from Kris):

Write three different scene openings, at least 250 words each. In each scenario, the viewpoint character is in some specific location in the weather you're trying to convey.

  • The POV of a character who loves this weather.
  • The POV of a character who hates this weather.
  • The POV of a character who is neutral about this weather.

This exercise explores different characters' attitudes toward the same weather, and illustrates how attitude affects what sensory details a character notices.


One way I like to use to find words to describe a scene/mood is imagining that scene like it were a movie. Observe each shot, each frame. What is happening? Ask yourself as many questions as possible, and write down those answers in form of a description.

Some examples: What are the characters' stances? Are they standing straight, crouching, etc.? What are they doing? Are they glaring at their opponent? Are they observing their environment to see what they could take advantage of once the battle starts? What is their footing like? Is the ground muddy because of the rain? Are they near water? Is something happening to the characters? Are their faces reddening from anger? What are they thinking about? Are there any bystanders? What are they doing? How is the weather affecting the environment? Are trees falling down, or is the wind just making the branches rustle a bit? Are there any sounds that the characters might hear? Loud or quiet? None at all?

There are so many things you could say about a scene. Try your best to envision it like you were watching it in a movie theatre, and describe what you're seeing. These descriptions, depending on length and content can really define the tone of the scene, and the speed of the pace. Long, descriptive descriptions slow down the pace and build tension. Scarce description and active verbs quicken the pace and make the event feel more intense.

  • 2
    This is exactly what I do! I imagine each part, each scene, each dialog as a movie playing in my head, paying attention to the manner of which I want them to interact or for it to be viewed. Then I take that and put it onto paper describing that image.
    – ggiaquin16
    Oct 25, 2017 at 16:47

Another way beside Klara's answer is to use a semantic field.

A semantic field is essentially inserting words that fit in context, but also connote the theme you're going for. This can be words that are hyperbolic, or homonyms.

For example, if the protagonist is at risk of dying horribly, you might talk about a side character who's chopping carrots and describe her hacking through them. You may then talk about the tiny dragon beside her expiring a smoke ring.

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