White screen, velvey curtains, round lights, carpeted floor, lighted steps, padded seats, lopsided broken seats, popcorn boxes, drink cups, pop bottles, water bottles, candy wrappers, chocolate bar wrappers, nacho trays, cup holders, napkins, booster seats…
Whispering during the movie, too-noisy previews, cell phones being turned off, the feature film dialogue, music from the soundtrack, popcorn crunching, slurping pop up straws, fizz of soda bottles being opened, gum popping, laughter, crying, screams, seats squeaking…
Popcorn, salt, butter, grease, chocolate, perfume, cologne, wet carpet, old fabric chairs, smelly feet, spices (from salsa, pizza, etc), sweet soda, cold food in the garbage can
hot popcorn, salt, butter, chocolate, licorice, mint, peanuts, chewy and hard candy, nachos and cheese, pretzels, soda, water
carpeted steps, sticky floor, cloth seats, plastic drink holders, bounce of seats as you sit down or get up, too-cold air conditioning, people stepping on your feet when they pass by, perspiring beverages, cold bottles, bendy straw, gritty buttery popcorn, melty chocolate…
–The words you choose can convey atmosphere and mood.
Example 1: It took three attempts to find a seat that didn’t try to dump me on the floor. Loose upholstery strings tickled my arms as I settled in. I aimed my drink toward the plastic holder, but it banged against the sides–too big. I thought about setting it on the ground, but the sticky squeak of my shoes said the floor already had enough soda. I squeezed the softening cup between my knees and tore open a bag of Skittles. A baby cried somewhere down front. Ahh, the Dollar Movie Theater. Worth every cent…
–Similes and metaphors create strong imagery when used sparingly.
Example 1: (Metaphor) The woman next to me blew into her hands. Someone sneezed. I shivered and wrapped my arms around my knees–one of a hundred frozen bonbons in a theater-sized icebox…
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.