Long grass seeded with wildflowers, sunlight, bees, dragonflies, butterflies, dry leaves trapped in the grass, tall trees laden with leaves hemming the clearing, birds, mushrooms, wild strawberry plants, ants, beetles, spiders, mice, moss, broken branches at the edge…
Leaves rustling/clattering, wind shushing, small critters scampering through the grass, crickets, water tricking over stones and roots from a nearby creek, the hum of bees and dragonflies, the whine of flies and mosquitoes, silence, birds trilling/cawing/squawking…
Growing grass, warm earth and sunlight, pollen, sweet flowers & berries, clean air, dew
Chewing on a stalk of sweet grass, picnic food brought to the area (sandwiches, wine, grapes, cheese, bread, cold cuts, chicken, other fruit, crackers, water etc), wild strawberries from the field, raspberries/blueberries/Saskatoon or gooseberries collected at the edge
Warm sun on the face, breeze ruffling clothes and brushing through hair and over skin, warm earth beneath you, soft grass, scratchy dead leaves or grass close to the ground, the sting of a bee or bite of an insect, grass sliding against legs as you walk, twigs/dead leaves…
–The words you choose can convey atmosphere and mood.
Example 1: Claire waited between the prickly skirts of two evergreens, rubbing her arms and jumping at the slightest movement. She dared not set foot out in the open; high above, the bloated moon scoured the low grass like a blind witch’s eye. The note that had summoned her here clearly outlined what would happen if she was seen or followed…
–Similes and metaphors create strong imagery when used sparingly.
Example 1: (Simile) The butterfly hovered over the cluster of white daisies, it’s wings shimmering like coins in the sun…
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.
Thanks SO MUCH for these setting descriptions. You guys are lifesavers!
Danette Haworth says
I just love your examples! Strong imagery!
Prickly skirts!!!! What an awesome way to say it.
Sheesh. That was great.
I just wrote a meadow scene. I had to really think hard, but it’s so worth it to draw the reader in.
Angela and Becca-
This is an EXCELLENT post. What a great “sensory” exercise. If only it wasn’t raining here in Chicago. I’m kind of in the mood to lay in a meadow, watching the clouds, and listen to the sounds of nature.
Timing in everything, hey PJ?
PJ Hoover says
Perfect timing! I have a meadow scene and have neglected to put in any insects (though I do have some birds).
Mary Witzl says
We’re off for a picnic now, and good thing too, after reading this!
I love that image of lying in the grass, smiling like a child being read a story — perfect.
Bish Denham says
I love how just reading the setting thesaurus puts me in the place.