Wide open sky, clouds, fog, sun, birds, river/creek/ocean/crevasse, bumper to bumper cars, pedestrian walkway, cyclists, concrete pillars, capstones, spires, wires, chains, piping, birds nesting, bird poop on concrete slabs, barriers separating car traffic from foot traffic…
The shaking hum of rubber tires against grates, the creak of cables, car engines roaring, horns honking, birds (seagulls, geese) crying out as they fly, car radios/sound systems, the whistle of wind whipping past struts and pillars, boat horns from the river, footsteps/squeal of gates/creaky railing…
Exhaust, brine/algae from the river, rusty metal, salty ocean, pine trees, sweat, stale cigarettes, dust, dry air, motor oil
Snacks in the car, water bottle, cold coffee, gum, mints, cough drops, dry mouth (if outside), cigarettes, toothpaste or mouthwash if commuting to work
Inside the car: Hands loosely holding the steering wheel, lifting a travel mug of coffee and bringing it to the lips, fiddling with the radio/stereo to choose music, flipping switches and knobs to turn on A/C or heat, foot on accelerator or applying brake, the flutter of wind …
–The words you choose can convey atmosphere and mood.
Example 1: Sleet soaked my shirt and pummelled my raw, exposed skin with painful icy darts. My eyes slits, I leaned into the wind, flinching every time a car sent an ocean of water fanning up from the tires. I’d only just passed the halfway point of the bridge and already the vibration of rush hour traffic had numbed my legs from the knees down…
–Similes and metaphors create strong imagery when used sparingly.
Example 1: (Simile) Rust blistered the steel struts like a terminal case of skin cancer…
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.
Great examples! I love bridges. :
Susanne Dietze says
What a helpful post. Thank you!
Mary Witzl says
I loved those examples too, especially the last one. After I come here, I always feel like buckling down and writing!
Christina Farley says
I just wanted to tell you ONCE again how much I love your blog. Such a resource.
Many thanks, all of you. 🙂 Have a great weekend!!
Bish Denham says
Ann Marie Wraight says
Super post…when I read your blog I feel as if I’m sailing in a sea of tempestuous waters but feel so calm…you take a reader through all the emotions possible to imagine.
It’s SUPER! THANK YOU.
Julie Musil says
Whew! I FELT that! Great post.
Shannon O'Donnell says
I love how thorough you always are – like remembering to to do the bridge setting either in the car or on foot. Good stuff Angela! 🙂
Conda V. Douglas says
Thank you–a great thesaurus, as usual!
Karen Lange says
Good stuff, thank you. Have a good weekend,
Susanne Drazic says
LOTS of useful information in your posts Angela. Thanks for taking the time to share.
Stina Lindenblatt says
I loved your metaphor. 🙂