Setting Thesaurus Entry: Frozen Tundra


Blowing snow, ice, snow banks, streaking clouds, flat landscape, far-off snow capped mountain ranges, streaks and whirls on hill crests showing a pattern from the gusting wind, polar bears, rabbits, mice, prints in the snow, a few deer, hardy tufts of grass…


Howling/whistling/tearing wind, flapping tent, the crackle/hiss of a fire, the whistle of a kettle on the fire, the crinkle of cold fabric (parka, tent, bedding), the crunch of snow beneath the boot, the steady whispering slur of runners in the snow, panting dogs, the rev…


Sweat, clean ozone-like smell of fresh snow, warming leather, rock, dogs & animals, fresh kills and found carrion, the wind carrying the scent of briny open water, woodsmoke, tea…


Raw meat, hardtack, biscuits, jerky, tea, coffee, cooked meat, trail mix or other nutritious foods brought for the journey, the tang of melted snow, salty sweat on the lips, gamy wild meat


Wind slicing at exposed flesh, rubbing it raw, chapped skin and bleeding lips, cracked knuckles and skin from exposure, numbness in fingers and toes, sun burn on face, wind burn on cheeks and forehead, pain in the ears from constant wind, dry tongue from thirst…

Helpful hints:

–The words you choose can convey atmosphere and mood.

Example 1: I pulled the tent flap back and shielded my eyes. The sun had lit up the ice crystals, transforming the ground into snow-crusted treasure. I smiled and took a deep breath of the cold, invigorating air, glad to have such beauty accompany me on the hike to the polar bear observation station…

–Similes and metaphors create strong imagery when used sparingly.

Example 1: (Metaphor) High morning cloud streaked the sky, a lofty white mirror of the tundra below…

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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11 years ago

This feels extra cold after just getting back from Florida!
Brrrr! Great entry!

11 years ago

I found your blog when a friend suggested I checked it out. Now it’s one of my favorite reference sites on the web. You ladies rock!

Thanks for stopping by my blog, Angela.

11 years ago

Very nice. 🙂 Makes me very glad I don’t live out there.

11 years ago

Thanks Christina!

Mary, welcome to my world. I live in Canada, after all…

PJ, glad to hear it!

Gutsy, I’m soooo jealous. Belize. *sniffle*

Lisa, I’m glad you’re finding the site useful!

Natalie, glad this one helps you.

Marian, it’s probably a bit of everything, except internet surfing. I’ve travelled quite a bit, and seeing as I live somewhere with regular cold seasons, I tend to visit tropical locations. Becca lives in Florida, so she knows lots about hot climates.

Too, one of my favorite shows is Man Vs Wild, and so he’s been all over the world in different survivalist settings. That show helps quite a bit with the settings I find.

Other than that, it’s probably absorbing urban settings through TV cop shows and reading, reading, reading. 🙂 It also helps I grew up in a small town and owned a farm, but now live in a large city, so I’ve seen both worlds.

11 years ago

Ok, I have to ask, Angela and Becca.

How do you guys create these entries? What’s the process? Is it all through books or the Internet, or do either of you have personal experience of these great exotic places?

Natalie Hatch
11 years ago

As always you girls have pulled out a big one. Thanks for this.

11 years ago

I’ve been scrolling through your past lists…this is an amazing site. What a lot of work! Thanks for sharing!

11 years ago

You have no idea how your setting thesaurus helps, although the frozen Tundra won’t be anything I need for my memoir in tropical Belize. I do use your emotional thesaurus daily, and have it ready for use during my revisions.
Thanks again.

PJ Hoover
11 years ago

This has to be the first location of yours I don’t currently have in a book 🙂
So now I can use it in my next WIP!

Mary Witzl
11 years ago

Aieee! I was cold enough to begin with! Remind me to come back here in July…

I love that metaphor about the morning cloud and the tundra.

Christina Farley
11 years ago

Oh this is a good one! Thanks so much! I love this site.