Lockers, scuffed floors, trophy case, fire extinguishers, doors, lockers, plaques, student art work or sculptures, school pictures, school colors, framed school jacket or flag, garbage cans, discarded gum wrappers, broken pencils, forgotten erasers, crumpled papers ringing…
Shoes squeaking on floor, echoes, talking, laughing, the clink of locks being opened, doors slamming, people being jostled into lockers, teachers ordering kids to settle down, disperse or get to class, bell for class, announcements on the speaker, muffled ipod music…
Perfume, deodorant, aftershave, hairspray, sweat, gym clothes, nasty-stuff-in-a locker-close-by smell, minty breath, cigarette smoke coming off clothing & hair, cleaning supplies, sweaty gym clothes, food odors from the cafeteria or student kitchen, marker…
Food, sweets (candy, chocolate, gum, mints), fizzy pop or energy drinks, bitter or sweet coffee, water, mouthwash, metallic braces, dust, just-waking-up-from-falling-asleep-in-history taste
cold metal lockers, swirling the dial of a lock, smooth paper or binders being transferred from the locker to hand, the press of a textbook against the chest or at the hip, cold metal doorknobs, sweaty hands, chewing on a pencil, tapping a pen against lip, writing a phone…
–The words you choose can convey atmosphere and mood.
Example 1: I strode out my office into the hall, inhaling the tell-tale scent of bleach and pine sol. Sun streamed through the glass front doors, gleaming off the freshly buffed floors. Rows of lockers stood like proud sentinels, displaying their uniforms of fresh paint. I smiled. Everything was as it should be. Soon, summer would end. Soon, the halls would be filled with young minds eager to learn…
–Similes and metaphors create strong imagery when used sparingly.
Example 1: (Simile) I snapped my locker shut but it echoed through the empty halls, making me jump. It was creepy after hours, this place–more like a funeral home than a school…
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.
As a high school freshman myself, this one is spot on! You forgot PDA for sights though 🙂 the just-waking-up-from-history is great though.
This is a really cool idea. Nice!
Thanks, Angela! You confirmed for me that I was on the right track. You described the same things that I had to describe in several of my scenes.
Glad this one helps. I hope it’ll have wide appeal.Thanks everybody, and we’re glad you found us, Christina!
Christina Farley says
Oh I just discovered your site. Love it!
CJ Raymer says
Thanks, Angela! You confirmed for me that I was on the right track. You described the same things that I had to describe in several of my scenes. It felt good to know that I’m “seeing” and “hearing” it correctly. XOXO
Lady Glamis says
Heh, what a great choice for an entry! This will be helpful to all those YA writers out there!
PJ Hoover says
Love the squeaky sneakers!