long, rickety tables covered with kids’ toys, stuffed animals, board games, sports equipment, books, coffee mugs, plates, corelle, cookie sheets, baskets, cutlery, vases, bowls, old christmas decorations, knick-knacks, collectibles (spoons, pins, figurines of angels, elephants, dogs, cats, wolves, birds, plates, coca-cola brand items, Elvis, owls, sea shells, etc), dusty…
Soundstalking, haggling, whispering, muttering, doors opening and closing, boxes opening, switches toggling on and off, pages turning in a magazine, radios, laughing, cars driving by, pulling up, stopping, puzzle boxes shaking, the crinkle of bags, the thump of setting down an appliance, kids rooting through the free box, the clink of glasses, metallic shift of cutlery or…
dust, oil, grease, musty clothing/towels/bedding, candle wax, potpourri sets, decorative soaps, scented candle sets, coffee, perfume, aftershave, leather, wood, varnish, drywall
Kool aid/chips/treats/hot dogs sold by the owner’s kids, coffee, bottled water, a metallic tang in the air, dust
Dusty knickknacks, the weight of a cold, chipped coffee mug in the hand, running fingertips over a soft bedroom comforter or item of clothing, the prickle of Christmas garland against the palm, warm coffee in the mouth and throat, bumping and brushing against other people in the narrow table isles, the papery feel of money, grease on the fingers…
–The words you choose can convey atmosphere and mood.
Example 1: Marion immediately honed in on a large clump of knotted, broken jewelry sitting out on the five dollar table. She knew a bargain when she saw one, and this hodgepodge of chains and tarnished silver would almost surely yield a treasure or two for someone patient enough to unravel the twists and tangles. She handed over the money to bored woman manning the cash box and hurried to her car. Last year she’s found a similar find at a yard same and ended up with a dainty pair of pearl studs and a ten karat gold wedding band…
–Similes and metaphors create strong imagery when used sparingly.
Example 1: (Simile) On the last table, a colorful collection of stained coffee mugs huddle around a broken coffee machine like mourners at a funeral…
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.
great work Angela. Hope you sold your stuff! FYI – I gave you a shout out on my blog.
Note on sights of a garage sale–really, this list is the tip of the iceberg. Items at a garage sale are only limited by the imagination!