blue, green, sea-green, whitecaps, waves, uneven shoreline, horizon, cruise ships and sailboats way out at sea, planes flying overhead with advertising banners, seaweed, shells, sand dunes, cattails, starfish, jellyfish, seagulls, beachcombers, half-washed-away sand castles…
crashing/rumbling/whispering waves, gusts of wind, seagulls crying and flapping, children screeching, people talking and laughing, snatches of conversation carried on the wind, umbrellas flapping, dogs barking, music…
hot, briny, salty, hot dogs and burgers, suntan lotion, wet towels, sweat, seaweed/algae, spilt beer, taco chips, grease, bug spray
salty air and water, sweat, cold water from bottles, hot dogs and burgers, soda, bitter drip of lotion, ice cream treats/ Popsicles, chips, gritty sand in food
soft sand, dry sand, gritty sand in your suit, scratching, chafing, sweat trickling, water running, sand sticking to wet feet, oily lotion, prickly sunburn, rough towel, hot sand burning your feet, sun’s heat beating down, cold water bottle or soda can…
–The words you choose can convey atmosphere and mood.
Ex 1: The purity of blue sky and warm sunlight soothed me like a tropical balm, scattering my worries about the upcoming trial…
–Similes and metaphors create strong imagery when used sparingly.
Ex 1 (metaphor): The surf thundered in, grabbing at the dry sand with frothing fingers…
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.
Thank you so much for this, As I said in the forest description, this will be extremely helpful for me. Thank you so much, Becca!
Whoopsie, sea grass isn’t algae, it’s a flowering plant. But it does spend its entire life cycle submerged.
I thought sea grass was the kind of algae manatees eat?
I have some tactile description to add: getting out of the water at the end of the day, chilled, pruney-fingered, and pleasantly exhausted, rubbing warmth in and sand off with a towel; getting in by inches, holding your arms up out of the waves as they inch up your ribs and tickle at your armpits; floating underwater, rocked by the swells; the suddenness of diving in; moving up and down through the temperature gradient, or in and out of warm and cold patches; dropping into an unexpected dip in the sea floor…I think I’ll stop listing now.
Ooo, the wind in the fronds. That’s a great beach sound.
Bish Denham says
Excellent! Seeing as how I’m from the Caribbean…the only thing I would add is the swooshing sound of the wind through palm fronds, it sounds very similar to the sound of wind through pine needles.
There are also bugs…mosquitoes and sandflies.
PJ Hoover says
I must have a beach somewhere in my books that I can revise using this. Think, think, think. Yes! I do have a beach. This will be perfect!
You girls are so creative! I love it!
I absolutely LOVE the word “skittering”…LOVE IT.