stone walls, dirt/stone floor, tree roots, dead leaves, twigs, trash, campfire remains, animal scat, fur, old bones, bears, mountain lions, raccoons, bats, rats, spiders, webs, insects, earthworms, stalactites hanging from ceiling, stalagmites protruding from floor, pools of…
wind whistling around stone, muffled sound of wind in trees outside, echoes, shoes shuffling over floor, skitter of animals, insects whirring, bat wings fluttering, water dripping or running, rustle of feet through detritus, crickets chirping, campfire crackling…
Wet or cold stone, animal feces, decaying animals, animal musk, rotting vegetation, stale air, stagnant standing water, briny smell of slimy lichen, woodsmoke/food cooking (if there’s a fire going)
Sweat, water, food cooked over a fire (trapped animals, fish, hot dogs–whatever the case) & drinks made or brought (tea, coffee, etc)
Bumpy/knobby/sharp stone, crumbling rock, jamming hands in fissures for handholds, slipping on a patch of wet rock, scraping against the wall, a fist of stone poking you in the back as you lean against a wall, bumping your head on a low ceiling, sweeping aside debris…
Helpful hints:–The words you choose can convey atmosphere and mood.
Example 1: As I opened my mouth to call the all clear, something snapped. I froze, pressing myself against the cold, wet stone, my gaze flicking across the unyielding darkness of the cave. My stomach clenched at the unmistakable scratch of paws passing over debris and a snout snuffling the air, rooting for a foreign scent: me…
–Similes and metaphors create strong imagery when used sparingly.
Example 1: (Simile) Wind shrieked through the hollows and gaps of the cave like banshees haunting a 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.