Setting Thesaurus Entry: Waiting Room


Tattered magazines, coffee table filled with magazines and travel books, cardboard holders with pamphlets, advertisement posters on the walls, a receptionist’s desk, hallway leading to exam rooms, rows of chairs, a toy corner for children (blocks, books, coloring table, trucks), metal chairs with thin-padded seats, a ticket counter & counter clock…


Pages in a magazine flipping, people clicking keys on their cell phones, playing games or texting, low whispers, coughing, throat clearing, heavy breathing, the rustle of clothing, the phone ringing, doors opening and closing, the receptionist calling out a name, staplers, mouse clicking, a cell phone ring going off, the scritch of a pen as you sign your name or fill…


Cologne, perfume, hair products, body spray, warm printer/computer/electronics, dust, room deodorizers, cleaning products, cough drops, minty gum, bad breath, hand cream or purel, a bouquet of flowers sitting at reception, wet shoes (if rainy/snowy)


Water, candy from reception, dry throat, cough drops, medicine, gum, mints, complimentary coffee/tea/hot chocolate


Clamping arms on chair grips, crossing, uncrossing legs, a thin padded seat digging at backbone, shifting to get comfortable, getting up to check out magazines on the rack, leaning against the reception counter, digging in wallet or purse for health care cards/insurance info/payments, a pen gripped in the hand, signing forms, shaking the pen to get it…

Helpful hints:

–The words you choose can convey atmosphere and mood.

Example 2: While Mother was in with the doctor, I snatched glances at the other patients in the waiting room. For some, like the woman with the head scarf concealing her baldness and the man with the tight ball cap pulled low, it was easy to see why they were waiting to see this particular doctor. Other patients broke my heart though, like the little girl whose hands were clenched in a worrying knot and the tiny, elderly man who looked lost and frightened in his flimsy hospital gown. I blinked back tears. Cancer had a lot to answer for…

–Similes and metaphors create strong imagery when used sparingly.

Example 1:
 (Metaphor) I eyed the dark brown door of the examination room where the doctor was waiting with my test results and imagined a black hole ready to suck away my future…

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, an online library packed with powerful tools to help writers elevate their storytelling.
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[…] Waiting Room […]

Susan R. Mills
10 years ago

I agree with Tara. There is always a fish tank. I wonder why? Do doctor’s have some secret fish-loving club that they aren’t sharing with the rest of us?

La Fleur
10 years ago

How cool is this? We can use a new perspective on how to express a thought, emotion or occurance in our writing. I know that I tend to fall into rut. I get irritated and frustrated, reading the same set up over and over. Thanks so much!

10 years ago

You know, on this weekend of Thanksgiving…a must add is this blog, Angela. I _love_ it.

Depending on the waiting room…empty juice and tea cups (waiting for chemo), and the tea cups are a variety of china donated by families..

10 years ago

Penelope, I agree! Thanks for visiting!!

10 years ago

Tara–fish tank! That’s a good one.

Marian, I agree posters everywhere, themed to the type of waiting room. Thanks!

PJ, Whenever I’m in a waiting room, I read. 🙂 So I don’t really mind.

Jm, thanks for the props! I’m glad you like the blog–hope to see you often!

Jm Diaz
10 years ago

What a Gem of a blog you have here. I’m oh, so very glad to have come across this! Thank you for posting these items. It never hurts to have a good a reference to convey feelings, without sounding repetitive.

Thanks,and thanks again…

Penelope Paige
10 years ago

Thanks for the entry! ^^ It always seems like every waiting room is exactly the same. X_X The only thing that changes are the information pamphlets. 😛

PJ Hoover
10 years ago

Thanks, as always, and hope you’re not spending too much time in waiting rooms researching!

10 years ago

If it’s a waiting room for a laboratory, it probably also has posters/signs reminding people about health issues, or what to do after they’ve had their blood drawn (e.g. don’t carry anything too heavy with that arm for 24 hours).

10 years ago

I always think of a fish tank. It seems like almost every waiting room has one.