Maximize the power of temperature to craft a more powerful story.

Turn the temperature up for fiery anger or sizzling passion. Turn it down for icy moods, frosty dialog, or chilling foreshadowing.

Temperature can:

  • reveal mood
  • reveal a character’s emotion
  • be a plot device
  • reveal a character’s personality
  • be thematic
  • be a setting


Not convinced?

The Great Gatsby is loaded with heat. Tom is a hot head ( personality trait). Gatsby is hot for Daisy ( desire/intent).  Tom is hot for Myrtle (personality trait)  and hot with anger (emotion) when he discovers Daisy’s infidelity. Myrtle is hot ( desire/intent) to be wealthy. Gatsby made all his money on hot goods (plot). Myrtle’s husband is hot ( emotion) to murder his wife’s killer. It’s a hot summer day (setting). The rising temperature mirrors the rising anger and lust of the characters. The heat is an excuse for the characters to leave East Egg ( plot ) and go into the city where conflict blazes! (mood)


Hot Synonyms

Warm, summery, tropical, broiling, boiling, searing, blistering, sweltering, torrid, sultry, humid, muggy, roasting, baking, scorching, scalding, searing, heated, red-hot, steamy

Heat can refer to:

  • anger
  • sexuality/lust/passion
  • personality ( a warm personality) 
  • problems/difficulties
  • law/police
  • eagerness/fervor 


Cold may refer to

  • personality
  • lack of emotion
  • remoteness
  • probability–It will be a cold day in hell when I forgive you.
  • austerity


Cold Synonyms

chilly, chill, cool, freezing, icy, nippy, wintry, frosty, frigid, bitter, biting raw, bone-chilling, arctic, frozen, numb, shivery

Where can you add heat/cold to turn up/down your story’s emotional temperature? 


I love questions! Leave a comment here, tweet me at @AutumnBardot ( where you’ll get the quickest response), or hit me up on Goodreads! I’ve been teaching college-level literary analysis for 14 years, and enjoy helping new writers understand and incorporate all the tricks and techniques of the trade.