Rough rock walls, thick cracked support beams (along sides & roof) every few metres down the shaft, dust, rick crumbles, dirt, debris blown in from outside (twigs, leaves, paper garbage/fliers), old broken pick handles, bits of chain, rusted nails/screws, old rails for carts, a rusted out/broken handcart, a forgotten hazard cone, broken or smashed in lunch box, pools of standing water, flooded areas…
Echos, boots on rock, accidentally kicking loose stone, creaking, shifting timber, dripping water, amplified sounds from outside through the rock (trucks driving by, construction, etc), heavier breathing…
Stale, moist air, cold stone, must, mildew, scummy standing water, sweat, dust (noxious gases: many mines have stores of gasses like Carbon monoxide or radon gas which do not have a smell…
The tang of cold rock, saliva, sweat, grit in teeth
Cold, slippery rock, dry, rough work gloves rubbing against fingers, back pain from bent back to maneuver through the tight spaces, smacking head on a low ceiling, bashing/scraping knees as you crawl through low tunnels, the slip of perspiration down the back of the neck, skinning knuckles on rock…
Helpful hints:–The words you choose can convey atmosphere and mood.
Example 1: Janet handed me her flashlight as she pulled back the rotting plywood covering the shaft. The wood splintered as she chucked it into the dead scrub nearby, leaving a yawning black hole. I swung the beam toward it but the light barely pierced the gloom. This had been my idea, but suddenly my brain was filled with thoughts of homework and tests to study for. I glanced at Janet, who crossed her arms and gave me a knowing smirk. “You going first, or am I?”…
–Similes and metaphors create strong imagery when used sparingly.
Example 1: (Metaphor) I secured the straps on the heavy, over sized miner’s hat for the tour but it was no use…I’d have an easier time juggling a brick on my head….
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.
Clella Camp says
So interesting and useful. Thanks.
I love your post. Great example of descriptive words and how to use them.
Shannon, Thanks so mich for your kind words. 🙂
PJ, this post is totally selfish. I have a MG that has a big part of the plot taking place in an abandoned mine. Glad it helps you too!
Bish, thanks so much! I really enjoy doing these.
Bish Denham says
I continue to be surprised. Reading your setting thesaurus is often like being at the setting!
C.R. Evers says
another awesome post! You Rawk!
PJ Hoover says
No freaking way. I have an old abandoned mine in my current WIP!
Shannon O'Donnell says
Fabulous examples! Your posts remind me of Alexander Pope and the poem, “Sound and Sense”. I love the way he tells us how to write, while showing us at the same time! That’s what you do. 😉