Eddies, dripping branches, current, glossy, darting shapes, water striders, leaf-dappled, twisting flow, drag, silt, reeds, bowed willows, shadows, sparkling, mirror, bent grasses, carve, clash, boulders, ripples, carry, twigs, debris, gliding birds, minnows, fish, smooth stones, slime, weeds, ducklings, drifting, lazy, tepid, mud, churning flow, winding, clover…
Frothing, crashing, clash, splashing, chuckling, burbling, tumbling, rush, trickle, gurgle, roar, simmer, murmur, rumble, clash, glug, warble, thundering, musical, gushing, din, bird calls, chattering squirrels, buzzing flies or bees, animals scampering through nearby undergrowth
Algae-scented, briny, wet earth, dank, musty, reek, fetid, rank, fresh, clean, pungent, wildflowers, grass, clover, rotting deadfall or leaves
Cold, quenching, thirsty, numbing, tang, sip, sweet, bitter, mineral-rich, impure, oily, gulp, coppery, swig, sharp, fishy, brackish, tart, brassy, stale, sharp, bite
Silken, smooth rocks, slippery, wet, chill, shock, soak, icy, warm, simmering, gritty, ticklish, sleek, cool, fluid, caressing, soothing, pulling, strength, powerful, brisk, jolt, stun, numbing, nip, freezing
–The words you choose can convey atmosphere and mood.
Example 1: As instructed in the stranger’s note, I waited at the end of Rogan’s Dock with only the moon above as company. Below me, the swollen spring waters churned against the pilings, fighting to escape into the flatland beyond the mountain. The boards beneath my feet groaned and I shifted uneasily. One misstep, and the darkness would swallow a man whole.
–Similes and metaphors create strong imagery when used sparingly.
Example 1: Long after the sun set, the frothing current swept past, dark as molasses. (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.