A landscape of sand, flat, harsh sunlight, cacti, tumbleweeds, dust devils, cracked land, crumbing rock, sandstone, canyons, wind-worn rock formations, tracks, dead grasses, vibrant desert blooms (after rainfall), flash flooding, dry creek…
Wind (whistling, howling, piping, tearing, weaving, winding, gusting), birds cawing, flapping, squawking, the fluttering shift of feasting birds, screeching eagles, the sound of one’s own steps, heavy silence, baying wild dogs…
Arid air, dust, one’s own sweat and body odor, dry baked earth, carrion
Grit, dust, dry mouth & tongue, warm flat canteen water, copper taste in mouth, bitter taste of insects for eating, stringy wild game (hares, rats) the tough saltiness of hardtack, biscuits or jerky, an insatible thirst or hunger
Torrid heat, sweat, cutting wind, cracked lips, freezing cold (night) hard packed ground, rocks, gritty sand, shivering, swiping away dirt and sweat, pain from split lips and dehydration, numbness in legs, heat/pain from sun stroke, clothes…
Helpful hints:–The words you choose can convey atmosphere and mood.
Example 1: When I started my journey across the winding dunes of sand, the sky was clear blue glass. Now, as I stagger toward mountains growing no bigger despite three days of walking, that blue glass is marred by flecks of swirling ash…vultures waiting for their next meal…
–Similes and metaphors create strong imagery when used sparingly.
Example 1: The dust devil swirled across the canyon like a rattlesnake on the hunt. (Simile)…
Think beyond what a character sees, and provide a sensory feast for readers
Setting is much more than just a backdrop, which is why choosing the right one and describing it well is so important. To help with this, we have expanded and integrated this thesaurus into our online library at One Stop For Writers. Each entry has been enhanced to include possible sources of conflict, people commonly found in these locales, and setting-specific notes and tips, and the collection itself has been augmented to include a whopping 230 entries—all of which have been cross-referenced with our other thesauruses for easy searchability. So if you’re interested in seeing a free sample of this powerful Setting Thesaurus, head on over and register at One Stop.
On the other hand, if you prefer your references in book form, we’ve got you covered, too, because both books are now available for purchase in digital and print copies. In addition to the entries, each book contains instructional front matter to help you maximize your settings. With advice on topics like making your setting do double duty and using figurative language to bring them to life, these books offer ample information to help you maximize your settings and write them effectively.
Becca Puglisi is an international speaker, writing coach, and bestselling author of The Emotion Thesaurus and its sequels. Her books are available in five languages, are sourced by US universities, and are used by novelists, screenwriters, editors, and psychologists around the world. She is passionate about learning and sharing her knowledge with others through her Writers Helping Writers blog and via One Stop For Writers—a powerhouse online library created to help writers elevate their storytelling.