Vines, ferns, lush foliage, tall trees (traveller’s fan, Heliconia, trumpet trees, cahoon), dense undergrowth, fronds, lagoons, cliffs, rocky outcropping, downed trees, canopy blocking the sun, mosses, creepers, water vines, brown dead fall, mud, lizards, snakes…
bird calls, wings fluttering, monkey hoots/shrieks, animal movements (growls, grunts, snorts, paws hitting the ground, slithering, hissing, animal cries), running water (rushing creaks, waterfalls, rivers, streams or rain clattering off the leaves), one’s own heavy…
stuffy & warm air, rotting vegetation, body odor, natural plant smells (sweet to attract insects/pollinators, bitter to ward them off), animal musk, flowers (few in the jungle–more in the rainforest)
Water, air thick on the tongue, edible leaves and root or fruits, prey caught and cooked over a fire (gamy, stringy, chewy, rubbery), stale breath, fresh rain
Slippery leaves, rough vines, crumbly wet ground underfoot in places, branches crackling, holding branches back, squeezing through a stand of bamboo & feeling the smooth wood against the chest and back, sweat running down the neck and face, slurping dew off a leaf…
–The words you choose can convey atmosphere and mood.
Example 1: Dusk stained the glistening foliage with shadow and murk. As nightfall descended, the sounds of the jungle began to ebb. Uncertainty hung in the warm, wet air as the creatures began to prepare for the long stretch of darkness. Soon new sounds emerged: footfalls and the rumbling growls of predators walking their hunting ground.
–Similes and metaphors create strong imagery when used sparingly.
Example 1: (Simile) Vines slithered down the cliff face like snakes, seeking the pool of tepid water below.
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.
Amazing, really helped me, especially the hints!
Keri Mikulski says
Love these posts.. 🙂
Glad we can help. Lady G!
Thanks PJ. I posted it a bit later than usual–maybe that messed you up, lol.
CR, I agree. I love tropical locals.
Thanks Bish. I’ve never tried it, but I’d love to.
Excellent piece of writing, I especially liked how descriptive you had made the little bits and phrases for other aspiring writers to use. I’m much more of a fantasy writer but I needed this in order to do something, so it came in really helpful! I can hardly wait to get on with my assignment!
With endless ‘Thank You’s’,
Bish Denham says
Great stuff! (As an aside…I saw breadfruit listed. I absolutely LOVE breadfruit. I wish I could get it here where I live.)
C.R. Evers says
hmmmm . . . makes me want to go on a rain forest adventure!
PJ Hoover says
I was about to say “wait, don’t these come on Saturdays” but then I realized it was Saturday 🙂
Lady Glamis says
YES! This is exactly what I need right now for my Amazon jungle scenes. 🙂 Thanks!