Setting Thesaurus Entry: Playground


swing sets, slides, jungle gym, sandbox, tube maze, see-saw, merry-go-round, sand, mulch, wood chips, small trees, bushes, benches, black rubber mat flooring, grass, shining metal, rusty metal, torn swing seats, hollowed-out sand or dead grass where see-saw seats hit the…


kids shrieking/laughing/crying, parents talking, swings creaking, rhythmic whoosh of swings going back and forth, seesaws thumping into the dirt, merry-go-round squeaking, rubber shoes on the slide, swish of sand pouring back and forth in the box, wind blowing…


Fresh mown grass, sticky-sweet spilled juice baking on asphalt, a garbage that needs changing, diaper smell, pine trees, tree blossoms, wild flowers, dandelion or other weeds (stink weed, skunk cabbage, etc), mud, wet dirt, dusty/chalky gravel, cigarette smoke…


Grass, dirt, juice boxes, water, coffee brought from a local coffee house, Popsicles, snacks (crackers, grapes, cheese, fruit gummies), chalky taste of stirred-up gravel or dust, mints, gum, sneaking a cigarette, pop, ice tea, sand in the mouth


The poke of gravel in the shoe or against the hands, paint-chipped cold metal, sun-warmed rubber tires, smooth seats, stiff uneven picnic tables/park benches, cool grass underfoot, the jab of a pine cone or pine needle, smooth chain links of a swing, sticky or gritty hands…

Helpful hints:

–The words you choose can convey atmosphere and mood.

Example 1: Ronald stared down from his perch at the top of the yellow ladder, smirking as he smashed a fist into his palm, daring any of us to climb his slide…

–Similes and metaphors create strong imagery when used sparingly.

Example 1: (Simile) Benson waddled toward me, almost unrecognizable beneath the dirt, mud and grass. Drool seeped from his gapped-toothed grin, his mouth rimmed with dirt that had journeyed to his inquisitive mouth. Sand clung to his curls like dew and his pocket bulged with treasure from the communal sandbox. As he rubbed a fist crusted with melted ice cream against his eye, I knew I had about fifteen minutes to get him home, cleaned up and ready for nap time…

Think beyond what a character sees, and provide a sensory feast for readers

Logo-OneStop-For-Writers-25-smallSetting 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.

The Setting Thesaurus DuoOn 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. You can find Becca online at both of these spots, as well as on Facebook and Twitter.
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5 Responses to Setting Thesaurus Entry: Playground

  1. Alexx says:

    I love this blog! It’s so helpful to writers!

    Amazing descriptions!

    Would you guys be able to make one for a skate park?

  2. Love this. Great setting. 🙂

  3. PJ Hoover says:

    What a perfect setting! Fun, creepy, and totally useful! Just look at Harry Potter (was it 5 – the movie?)

  4. Angela says:

    Me too–I think that’s why I chose that one description for metaphor, lol. Maybe there’s something inside of us that understands that everything has an opposite, even those happy places. So when we’re alone in these places and the weather or time of day has transformed them…*shivers*

  5. Marian says:

    I’ve always found deserted playgrounds a bit creepy, to tell you the truth.

    Imagine walking home at dusk through one and hearing a creak, then turning to see a swing stirring even though there’s no wind.

    I’d love to see a painting of such a playground done in a disturbing, M. C. Escher-esque style. Way cool.

    Thanks for the inspiration! 🙂

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