Setting Thesaurus Entry: Attic


insulation, exposed wooden beams, pipes, wiring, exhaust fan, porthole window, cracks showing light, airflow tubing, mice/rat/small animal feces, bugs, spiderwebs, dirty floors, dust, boxes, barrels, trunks, old furniture, broken vacuums, children’s toys, old clothing, Christmas decoration, sheets covering antiques, dust floating in the air…


creaks, squeaking mice, scampering feet, claws against floorboards, fabric crinkling, the wind out on the roof, voices hear through the floor, footsteps, music or movement floating up…

insulation, mouse/rat/possum droppings, mold, mildew, sawdust, dirt, damp wood…


damp air, stale air, dust, gritty teeth from dust trapped in the air


Feet against wobbly stairs, reaching out to grab a beam, carefully moving drop cloths to minimize the dust in the air, running hands over a cherished toy or item, pulling back cardboard flaps, the cold metal hinge on a trunk, pushing/shoving a heavy lid, coughing on dust, waving hand in front of face to ward off dust, picking way across beams or past soft spots in the floor,  jumping or flinching at the sight of a mouse…

Helpful hints:–The words you choose can convey atmosphere and mood.

Example 1: The one-eyed doll, leaning drunkenly against an old vacuum, faced the back of the attic where the strange thumping noise seemed to be coming from. Her sadistic smile of rotten stitches made me feel like she knew something I didn’t.

–Similes and metaphors create strong imagery when used sparingly.

Example 1: (Simile) Mouse turds were everywhere, scattered over the floorboards like rice at a wedding.

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.

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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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[…] Attic […]

11 years ago

Attics have great potential! I agree, PJ & Danyelle!

Vivian, you might want to set a few traps…

Don, welcome! Nails! You are exactly right–that’s a great add!

11 years ago

My first time here, just discovered it yesterday. This is a great resource. Great job too. One thing I’d ad — I know this well because I spent all of Sunday afternoon shop-vac-ing out an old attic — is Nails. I vaccuumed up so many, ( pulled a few out of my shoe too ), I’m worried the roof may someday come crashing down.

11 years ago

Should I worry that I saw the words for droppings and mouse turds, right away? Eeew. Shiver.

Great post!

11 years ago

I love this! Attics have so much potential. Great post! (Loved the wobbly stair bit.) 😀

PJ Hoover
11 years ago

Ooh, there is nothing like an attic for a book…except possibly a cellar. Very nice one!

11 years ago

Ha! Not this time. Seeing as I don’t have much of an attic to speak up, I relied on Google images to inspire me. 🙂

Tricia J. O'Brien
11 years ago

I’ve got this picture of you crawling around the attic, notebook and pen in hand, scarf to cover your hair or nose as need be. You are the most intrepid hunter of word detail. Ever.