Setting Thesaurus Entry: Diner


Smudged windows, counter with pies under glass domes, metal napkin holders, stools lining the counter, cheap Formica tabletops with chips, scratches, names carved in them, gum stuck to the bottom, dull &/dented metal cutlery, checkered tile floor, dingy/dusty…


Cutlery clinking on tables and scratching against plates, the farty squish of a ketchup bottle, a waitress drawling out orders to the fry cook in diner-slang, smoker’s cough, creaking stools, slurping coffee from the cup, setting cups and glasses down, the clink and…


Meat grilling, onions frying, hot oil from the deep fryer, warm steam in the face, spices, spicy chili, soups, stews, astringent tang of vinegary coleslaw, strong coffee, over sweet or burnt coffee, pine cleaner from a freshly washed floor…


Coffee, greasy fries, hamburgers, hot dogs, smokies, subs, breakfast meals (steak and eggs, bacon, sausage, pancakes, grits, buttered toast, etc), chili, ketchup, mustard, hot sauce, pepper, pies (blueberry, apple, strawberry/rhubarb, peach, lemon meringue, etc), grilled…


Sticky counter, greasy menus, salt or sugar granules left on table, cold metal cutlery, blowing on hot food or coffee, burning the tongue, jerking a napkin from the holder and having it rip, squinting at the bright light coming in the window, grease sticking to…

Helpful hints:

–The words you choose can convey atmosphere and mood.

Example 1: The man wandered in and hesitated briefly just inside the door, his hand giving his jean pocket a slight touch before moving toward an empty booth. His head stayed ducked, alternating between the tabletop and the view of the parking lot outside. He didn’t even glance at his menu and it took all of ten seconds for Rena to size him up as a drifter, one who barely had two dimes to rub together. She swung by his booth, not bothering to pull out an order pad. “Just coffee?” she asked…

–Similes and metaphors create strong imagery when used sparingly.

Example 1: (Simile) My meatloaf lay in the congealed gravy like roadkill floating in a mud puddle…

Think beyond what a character sees, and provide a sensory feast for readers

Logo-OneStop-For-Writers-25-smallSetting 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.

The Setting Thesaurus DuoOn 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.
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11 years ago

Go Mary!!

Mary Witzl
11 years ago

I’m glad you’re carrying on too. Especially because I’m revising in earnest now.

Mary Witzl
11 years ago

Ooh — hold the meatloaf. Just the thought of that congealed gravy is making me queasy.

Don’t forget donuts — those big glazed ones sitting on greasy doilies in glass display cases!

11 years ago

Thanks, guys! I couldn’t imagine closing down this blog–I’ve learned so much and met so many wonderful writers. If I can use this blog to give back even a tiny bit, I will!

PJ Hoover
11 years ago

I’m so glad you’re carrying on, even sans Becca! I couldn’t have made it without The Bookshelf Muse!

Robyn Campbell
11 years ago

I’m glad you like meatloaf! 🙂

I’ve always had trouble with similes. Your Thesaurus has helped me more than one time. Thanks for that. I come back often. 🙂

11 years ago

No actual meatloaf was harmed in the creating of this description. Honest. I like meatloaf!