Stone, crags, cliffs, shale, scree, granite, moss, treeline, clouds, mist, jagged, crooked, uneven, slope, face, ravines, waterfall, snow, snow melt, tracks, hawks, eagles, ravens, falcons, owls, mice, deer, foxes, bighorn sheep, rock slides, avalanche paths, scat, pine…
wind whistling along the slopes, animal howls, rustling leaves, frothing waterfalls, water trickling into snow melt, scree shifting underfoot, rockfalls, birds calling/hooting, animals pattering through the underbrush, branches snapping…
Pine needles, fresh/crisp air, clean water, earthy moss, rotting logs/trees, vegetation, an ozone-like tang of cold or wet rock, sunshine, wildflower blossoms
Wild plants (berry bushes, wild onions, tubers, nuts, seeds) tea made from edible leaves, bark, dandelions; captured animals or birds (gamy, strong flavors, tough meat), spring waters
Cold unyielding stone, sharp finger holds, dust, grit, spongy moss, prickling pine needles caught in the boot, slippery shale underfoot, gripping a rock face, wedging boots into toeholds, rope burns while climbing, wet sleeves from plunging hands into a freshwater…
–The words you choose can convey atmosphere and mood.
Example 1: Wind sawed at my clothes and froze my sweat, battering at me on the rock face. I jammed a foot almost past feeling into a crack, praying it would hold me. Another few minutes and my fingers would be too numb to grip the rock, much less contain the strength to fight the bitter crosswinds. I had to find a rock ledge, an indented shelf–something, and quick…
–Similes and metaphors create strong imagery when used sparingly.
Example 1: (Simile) In the distance, jagged mountain peaks rose above the early morning cloud cover like headstones in a mist-clotted graveyard…
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.