Day, Night and In Between – Descriptions For Time of Day

Sunrise with duck by Sharla

Yeah, writers could just tell readers what time of day it is and sometimes it’s more expedient. But! It “is” telling and one of the first rules of writing is “show” don’t tell.

When it comes to time of the day, it’s as easy to show as it is to tell, so why not show?

Over the years I’ve collected words and phrases to inspire “showing” over telling. And sure, I have a thesaurus and a synonym finder too. But there’s times when showing the time of day isn’t enough. Sometimes writers  

Sunset on the lake by Sharla

need descriptions to do double duty, like conveying a mood/atmosphere. In the list below, you’ll find a few phrases that convey a mood. Find more ideas by using a synonym finder.

I’ve mentioned this in previous blogs but it bares repeating: Definitions can be helpful with descriptions too. Take a look at my list of definitions below and you’ll see what I mean.

Think Poetic!

Remember poetry is an excellent source of descriptive ideas too. You’ve heard of waxing poetic. <g> All jokes aside poets have a talent for description on a totally different level.


Web in dewy holly bush early morning – by sharla

This may seem like a no-brainer but I’ve written these list blogs before and this is the first time it dawned on me! Pictures!

While I’ve left my photography by the way side the past few years, it is still a love of mine, especially nature. And whether or not you take photos, there are plenty to find in books and on the Internet. Find pictures that convey, morning, daytime, evening, etc. Study them and let the fiction writer inside of you visualize descriptive words. 

[The picture above shows dew on a spider web. Since dew appears in the early mornings using a description of this can convey time of day.]

So here are the lists. I hope they inspires your own great ideas. If you have other suggestions please share them with all of us. 

A palette of pinks and purples

Afternoon grew chilly and gray

Awash with the russet glow of sunrise

Balmy spring morning

Bathed in the warmth of the promised daylight

Black texture of the night thinned fractionally

Breath of the morning breeze

Chilly April drizzle

Curled up in the spots of warmth where the morning sunshine dolloped the carpet

Darkness overtook the woodlands

Daybreak, day-peep, sunrise, sunup, aurora, cocklight, crack of dawn, early light, wee hours of the morning.

Deep melon streaked the dusky marine sky

Dim shadows

Down in the copse and owl hooted

Drowsy July day

Face set aglow in the eerie yellow glow of the lantern’s light

Fiery/flaming arrows of crimson shot around the edges of the clouds

Forenoon, foreday, noon, noonday, midday, midmorning

Gas light cast a hazy sulfur circle over the cobblestones

Golden glow of the aging sun

Iridescent rainbow over the water

Mantle of gray

Mist hung around the gas light

Moonbeams walk the night

Moonlight dusted the forest, lending a fairyland quality

Moonlight shimmered on the glazed streets

Morning crept over the land in tones of pewter blue

Mountains appear as jagged bruises against the clair de lune sky.

Mystical moist night air

Night crept up the valley

Night gradually gave way/surrendered to morning

Nightfall, sunset, eventide, vesper, dusk gloaming (gloam/twilight) impending night

Nocturnal creatures took to daytime hideaways

One by one stars winked out

Prairie turned a sullen red

Rainbows over the devastation left below

Shadows slyly creep as I keep vigil

Shank of the afternoon

Sky a smoke color and scented with rain

Sky sagged overhead, so heavy with blue

Soft gray light spilled through

Soon it too surrendered to the night

Stomach growled, signaling lunchtime

Stygian gloom of the late hour

Sun faded into the gray of day’s end

Sun set, leaving behind a gold-touched glow to stain the clouds

Sunlight filtered through the gauzy curtains

The hour that troubled souls wonder the Earth

The hour when courage and strength often lose to fear

Time for the prowling of evil thoughts and the encroachment of nightmares

Tiny dew droplets beaded the grass and glistened like diamonds


Twilight settled on the hills

Under a fat, full moon

Wake-up calls of [a bird perhaps]

Warm and lazy in the sun, a big bumble buzzed flatly among the leaves

Water danced with moonlight

When faceless, shapeless nothings tremble crouch and leer

Wind rose in the uppermost boughs of the

Witching hour

Descriptive Definitions

Crescent moon – in its first or last quarter

Equinox – when night and day are of the same length; the sun crosses the plane of the equator, happens twice a year

Gibbous moon – seen with more than half but not all of the disk illuminated

Greek god of the sun – Apollo

Greek goddess of the dawn – Eos

Greek goddess of the moon – Artemis, Cynthia or Phoebe

Half moon – half illuminated

Harvest moon – full moon about September 22 or 23, the autumnal equinox

Lunar month – about 29 ½ days

Moon on the wane – degrees after a full moon

Old moon – waning moon

Roman goddess of moon – Diana

Roman goddess of the dawn or sunrise – Auroa

Solstice – time twice a year when the sun is farthest North or south of the equator

Summer solstice – beginning of summer, about June 21st

Vernal equinox – beginning of Spring, about March 21st

Waxing moon – increase before the full moon

Winter solstice – beginning of winter about December 22nd


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2 Responses to Day, Night and In Between – Descriptions For Time of Day

  1. Deirdre says:

    I really love your lists! They are so very Very helpful. I can usually sort out my thoughts and choose the perfect phrasing for my descriptions after reading them. Do you still have a list for describing kisses? You mentioned it on an old site, but I haven’t had any luck finding it.

    • sharla says:

      I do have a list for in and out of the bedroom. I’ll look for some kissing phrases there and add more. It’s a good idea. And thanks for stopping by my website!

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