Wide open fields, corrals, wooden fences, gates, cattle runs, cattle, horses, chickens/roosters, dusty ground, dust puffing under horse’s hooves/cowboy’s boots pick up trucks, horse trailers, sprawling farmhouse, large barn, stacked hay bales, pitchfork…
The wind, whinnying, squeaking gates, calls of greeting, the clop of horses’ hooves, dinner bell, old radio, talking, laughter, calling/talking to the animals, the creak of harnesses and tack, the scratch of rope being coiled or knotted, horses pawing at the ground, a dog…
Manure, grass, dust and dirt, dry grass, horse hide, sweat, alfalfa & timothy hay, dirty straw, scents carried on the wind, food cooking, campfire smoke, cigarette smoke, domestic animals
Dust in the mouth, spit, water, the tang of chewing sweet grass ends, cigarette tobacco, chewing tobacco, coffee, tea, beer, home cooking type foods, fresh garden vegetables, sweet & tart berries picked wild of the bush, beef jerky…
The soft fuzz of a horse’s lips nuzzling your hand for attention or treats (apple carrot, sugar cubes), hard-packed earth beneath your feet, leaning your chest against a fence railing, sitting on the top of a fence, the heaviness of a cowboy hat on the brow, wiping sweat with…
–The words you choose can convey atmosphere and mood.
Example 1: Mandy stifled a yawn and rested her chin against the smooth top rail of the corral. Sundancer stood in the middle of the dusty yard with Logan, who took careful steps toward the horse with a training bridle in his hand. Shadow cloaked most of the fenced area; the sun was only begining to crest the eastern field. She squinted in the pink-streaked darkness, determined to learn her brother’s techniques. Early morning was the best time to break a horse–even the orneriest beast was amicable after a night of rest.
–Similes and metaphors create strong imagery when used sparingly.
Example 1: (Metaphor) Only ten am, and the wind’s breath pushed the wilting timothy stalks in hot, relentless gusts, promising another day of searing heat.
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.