water, whitecaps, surf retreating and encroaching, palm trees, coconuts, sea oats, driftwood, wreckage, seashells, sand, rocks, tide pools, fish, seaweed, washed-up jellyfish, seagulls, sandpipers, crabs, gnats, mosquitoes, forest with dense undergrowth, inland rivers and ponds, waterfalls, ivy, tropical fruits, coconuts hanging in trees/lying in the sand/washing up on the beach, plastic and litter washing up along the shoreline, sea onions, dried palm fronds, ferns, sand, shells, snakes, spiders/spiderwebs, pineapple bushes, bats, lizards, tropical flowers, bees, small animals, vines
surf washing in and out, crunch of sand beneath feet, waves crashing, wind whipping, birds chirping/calling/flapping wings, insects buzzing, drip of water from wet clothing, palm fronds blowing, coconuts hitting the ground, splash of jumping fish, rustle of creatures in the underbrush, gurgle of streams or rivers, labored breath, palm fronds rustling/shushing, the snap of a twig, the clatter & thump as a overripe coconut falls from a high perch
salty brine, rain, sweat, heat, cooking fire, fish cooking, kelp, rotting wood, fresh river water, coconut, tropical fruit, seaweed, body odor, dead fish washing up on shore, sweet tropical flowers
sweat, fresh water, salt, food roasted on sticks over a fire, fish, crab, oysters, clams, mussels, seaweed, rainwater, coconut, fruits, nuts, sand
chafe of wet clothing, water dripping into eyes, wet hair sticking to neck, gritty sand against the skin, burning heat from the sun, prickly sunburn, driving rain, feet sinking into the sand, surf beating against shins and washing over feet, shadows of clouds falling over you, cooling breeze, wind blowing sand into your eyes, hot gusts of wind, scaly fish, pinch of crab claws, hairy coconut husk, rough palm tree bark, slimy shellfish, heat from cooking fire, sharp rock underfoot, cuts, bruises, stiffness from sleeping rough, exhaustion, waves beating at you, fronds, ferns and branches slapping at your face, torso and legs, raw hands and feet pads from scaling trees, dirt under nails, grit in eyes
–The words you choose can convey atmosphere and mood.
A flash of color caught my eye in a clump of seaweed stranded along the tide line. I nudged the rotting strands with my foot and gasped, homesickness squeezing my chest. A capped plastic bottle missing half its label was caught in the slime, an inch of brown liquid caught inside. Coke.
Under the lonely, diamond-bright stars, I shifted the palm fronds blanketing me, covering my legs from the relentless sand flies and mosquitoes. I had climbed mountains, survived the barren Artic ice fields and lived off the Canadian hinterland. My body is conditioned to hardship, I told myself. I would make it through this.
–Similes and metaphors create strong imagery when used sparingly.
Example 1: (Simile)
Seashells poked through my sandy bed like a nail-studded mattress. I shifted, grinding my teeth, determined to make a better refuge as soon as the sun rose tomorrow.
Example 2: (Metaphor)
Sun glittered on the shifting waves as far as Eamon could see, an unsurpassable liquid field keeping him from home.
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.