Metal doors, metal or faux panelled walls, sticky surfaces, smudges, fingerprints, gum wrappers, dirt, pea gravel on the floor, poster ads behind glass, a sanitizer dispenser, operation panel, buttons for the floors, opening and closing the door, a slot for a key, a bright red emergency button, florescent lighting, a handrail, a video camera, speakers in the roof or…
Metal rubbing against metal, squeals, squeaks, hydraulics pressing the doors shut, the crackle of the intercom, music from speakers, breaks squeezing the wires, the car shuddering and jerking as it slows, a metallic hum, people coughing, rustling clothing and jackets, people asking for a floor number button to be pressed, small talk…
Wet & dirty mat or floor, too many perfumes/aftershaves/hair products mingling, dirty diaper smells from babies in strollers, cough drops, bad breath, hand sanitizer, body odors, cleaning products (if you’re lucky)…
Gum, candies, cough drops, pop, juice or water brought into the elevator (but really, I wouldn’t recommend eating or drinking on the elevator!)
Pressing/jabbing a plastic button, shuffling to the walls to make room, holding breath or trying to make oneself small in a crowded elevator, clutching the metal handrail, trying to not touch the grimy walls, clasping hands in front of self, waiting, head craned up to watch the floor number display, smiling or nodding a hello to a fellow passenger you make…
Helpful hints:–The words you choose can convey atmosphere and mood.
Example 1: ‘Stand by Your Man’ drifted from the elevator speaker as I jabbed the button to take me to the lobby. Hell would freeze over before I set foot inside the Aritzia Suites again–the nerve of Donnie, promising he was done with the womanizing! I glared at my smudged reflection in the metal doors as the singer’s loving twang stabbed at my eardrums. If the elevator didn’t open in the next five seconds I’d rip that damn speaker right out the roof…
–Similes and metaphors create strong imagery when used sparingly.
Example 1: (Simile) The doors screeched as they opened at the third floor, and as an elderly man started through, began to jerk shut like a the metal jaws of a monster attempting to procure a leg or two for its midday meal…
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.
I can’t see the word elevator without humming “Love in an Elevator by Aerosmith”…
Bish, I’ve never taken that elevator–I can only imagine!
I don’t mind elevators as long as the doors don’t try to eat people or they don’t shudder and jerk and sqeaul, making one wonder if it’s in its death throws….
Thanks Jon–back atcha!
Shannon, I guess I should think these things through before choosing a comparison, huh?
Susan, thanks so much!
veach, thank you so much! I appreciate you passing this on!
Kristi, thanks–I stopped by and got your email, too!
Bish Denham says
Not a big fan of elevators, but not phobic. A ride to the top of the Empire State Building and back down…that was an experience!
Kristi Faith says
Wonderful post, so true that many authors leave out such wonderful details!
I left an answer to your question on Critter Corner also-wanted to let you know in case you didn’t get it in an email. 🙂
veach st. glines says
In a comment on Resident Alien, you asked about this map widget: http://www.clustrmaps.com/
Hope this is what you invoked the love of zombies for.
Susan J. Reinhardt says
You give new meaning to observing your surroundings. Thank you for this helpful feature.
Shannon O'Donnell says
An elevator rivaling a truck stop washroom is enough to trigger my gag reflex right here at the computer – I guess that means it’s effective imagery! hahaha. 🙂
Jonathon Arntson says