Isles of shelving, bright florescent lighting, end displays of popular products (soup cans, chips, BBQ sauce, cereal, etc), sale signs, banners with store mottoes (“Freshness guaranteed” or “Shop and Save!” etc), isle signs stating product location, rows and rows of household products (toilet tissue, cleaners, dish washing liquid, bleach, laundry soap…
Background music on speakers (usually an easy listening radio station), rattle of bags, cashiers calling for price checks, the bleep of items being scanned at checkouts, squeaky cart wheels, the whoosh of air conditioning and electronic doors opening and closing..
Fresh baked bread goods (yeasty & buttery or spices: cinnamon, ginger, savories, etc), roasting chickens (spices and char), a sweet aroma coming off fresh ripe fruit, air conditioning, sample stations serving up toasted/fried appetizer type foods or sausage..
Samples from sample booths (sausage, cinnamon buns or other sweets, appetizer foods in pastries, drink samples), opening a bag of chips or crackers to snack on as you shop or at the cash out, gum, mints, candies, coffee brought to the store
The cold metal carts, squeezing a loaf of bread, the papery smoothness of a potato or pear, checking for brown spots or bruises, bringing a pineapple up to the nose to smell, squeezing fruit, icy cold against the palms and fingers as you grab a bag of frozen corn…
–The words you choose can convey atmosphere and mood.
Example 1: Hell in the grocery store world is the candy isle. It doesn’t matter what time it is, opening or closing, invariably I will wheel my overflowing cart through the colorful containers of licorice and jelly beans, gritting my teeth as I listen to the hysterical wailing of a toddler bent on having that big bag of gummy bears. It’s almost enough to put me off sugar, and definitely enough to put me off ever having kids…
–Similes and metaphors create strong imagery when used sparingly.
Example 1: (Simile) After I finish loading the last stack of frozen Weight Watcher meals onto the conveyor belt, the colorful display of chocolate bars beside the checkout draws my eye like a hundred banners saying, Go ahead! Cheat! Cheat…
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.
Angela is a writing coach, international speaker, and bestselling author who loves to travel, teach, empower writers, and pay-it-forward. She also is a founder of One Stop For Writers, a portal to powerful, innovative tools to help writers elevate their storytelling.
Thanks, guys. This one was pretty easy for me–I worked in a grocery store as a teen.
Mary Witzl says
Wish I’d had dinner before I started reading this! Lovely descriptions, especially when we got to the smells section…
I like the description “a frilly vegetable”. Now each time I go to the grocery store I’m going to see green frills. 🙂
I don’t buy the bagged salads, so it didn’t occur to me that people had to check those for rot. You learn something new…