sand, shells, sea cucumber, coral (brain, staghorn, sea fan, sea whip), rocks, fish (tuna, cod, swordfish, clown fish, salmon, blow fish, sunfish, sailfish, marlin, grouper) octopus, crabs, clams, conch shells, sea horses, plankton, sand flats, gravel, shoal bottoms, sea grass, eels, lobster, manta rays, sharks, shipwrecks, sea sponge, anemones, prawns, algae, star…
Breathing through a tube, whale calls, the hiss of air, air bubbles
Canned air, rubber, sealant on the mask, sweat
Metallic oxygen, spit, salt water, brine
The feel of water against the skin and wet suit, air bubbles tickling the skin, hair rising up from the scalp, waving in the water, running fingers through the sand, brushing against coral or rock, fins knocking into solid objects (sea bed, shipwrecks, other divers, rock, fish), fish brushing against hands or body, water currents pushing at the body, skimming…
–The words you choose can convey atmosphere and mood.
Example 1: Donna didn’t know where to look first. Schools of neon blue fish danced in the water currents, lacy fans of purple coral waved as clown fish chased each other around the stems. A rusty crab scuttled across the sand, startling a slumbering manta ray, which took off in a puff of white sand. Here in the quiet sea she felt like God had set up a private show just for her…
–Similes and metaphors create strong imagery when used sparingly.
Example 1: (Simile) Sophie screamed into her snorkel; dozens of tiny fish squirmed against her, snacking on the decorative sequins on her swimsuit like some glittering buffet…
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.
This is great. I wish I were by one right now. *sigh*
OOOOOH! This is PERFECT for me right now. I’ve been working on a ocean/summer poem for a couple of days and this is JUST what I needed.
You guys are great!
Mucho thanks, Guys–these are awesome additions. I’ve done lots of snorkeling, but no deep sea diving. Interesting about the red Liana–i did not know that. I guess I’ve never been deep enough. 🙂
Liana Brooks says
I’ll add a bit…
The first color you lose underwater is red, so blood looks greenish 20 feet down and most red fish show up green or black. So unless you have a light shining you won’t see red.
At night you get bioluminescent algae that can make the waves glow or show up like stars in the water.
When SCUBA diving what you taste is your mouth and maybe the breather. The mouth can get dry and some people chew starbursts or candy to compensate (on the boat usually).
There’s also the sound of the anchor chain moving in the current – metal scraping metal. And the sound of someone banging a dive tank. Some fish chirp or click.
Bish Denham says
There are lots of different colored fish, parrot, damsels, etc. I’d be here days listing them all :O
But there is a sound you can hear when you stick your head under the water. There is a crinkling crackling clicking clacking sound that is continuous and always present. It is the sound of sand and rocks being shifted, rolled, tumbled and moved by ocean.
You can also hear boat propellers/engines.