Setting Description Entry: Dragon’s Lair


Dragon, a massive wide cavern, high ceiling, smooth walls from the dragon body scraping the sides, coins, jewels, precious metals, weaponry and other riches scattered on the floor and piled up in adjoining chambers, heat vents, fissures, stalactites and stalagmites…


The crash of water and waves (if located on a cliff face on the ocean’s edge), powerful inhaling and exhaling that reverberates throughout the chamber, the scuff of a foot, the drag of a tail, knocking over a stalagmite with a crash, a metallic slide of metals and coins…


Fire, blood, metal, char, brimstone, the sea, salt, hot stone, musty air, rotten food breath, death


Sour tang of fear, sweat, dry mouth…don’t think you want to stop here for a picnic


Rough handhold climbing up to the lair entrance, stone digging into knees, cutting hands, scraping legs and arms, inside: taking careful steps, picking your way across a floor littered with bones, rock and riches, careful not to disturb anything, pausing to wipe away droplets…

Helpful hints:

–The words you choose can convey atmosphere and mood.

Example 1: With each exhale, Ceron’s face burned and came close to blistering, but he gritted his teeth and stayed focused on the key resting just beyond the sleeping dragon’s blood-splattered claw. Two more steps and he would be able to free his son, shackled in the antechamber by the giant beast for daring to wander too close to its lair…

–Similes and metaphors create strong imagery when used sparingly.

Example 1: (Metaphor) I glanced back at mouth of the cave and the unblemished blue sky beyond. The realization that this would be the last time I drank in such a sight was a heavy shield to carry, yet at least the burden was mine alone…

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. The Urban Setting Thesaurus and The Rural Setting Thesaurus are 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, an online library packed with powerful tools to help writers elevate their storytelling.
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15 Responses to Setting Description Entry: Dragon’s Lair

  1. Pingback: Setting Thesaurus Entry Collection | Writers Helping Writers

  2. SugarScribes says:

    It’s a deal. I am looking forward to reading it, just email me when it’s ready and thank you.

  3. Jaleh D says:

    Hooray for dragons! This was very cool.

  4. Sugarscribes, I’mm write the post if you check it for accuracy…deal? 🙂

    Christina and April, glad you liked this one!

    Paul, I know my Emotion Thesaurus has been used in the classroom and it is amazing what kids come up with. 🙂

    Thanks for all the comments, everyone!

  5. Paul C says:

    You have provided an excellent template for writers in high school to begin thinking about the rich dynamics of writing. It would be interesting to see what they come up with in groups. And then they could compare with your perspective. Well done.

  6. April says:

    I’m not a fantasy writer or reader, but I loved this! I was right there, feeling the heat and the danger.

  7. So cool! Now I need to go write a book with a dragon’s lair just to use these descriptions. 🙂

  8. SugarScribes says:

    Another good one; I check in everyday to see what your new one will be. You are amazing and like I told you in my post in answer to your challenge; your emotional thesaurus is what finally enabled me to polish off my final draft.

    I would love for you to do a setting description for ” Court house” “Courtroom” I write legal/thrillers and could really use your insight. I have already used your setting description of a prison cell. Keep ’em coming. You actually are my “can’t live without blog, but I couldn’t say that in the challenge post.


  9. Haha, Stina. Only when I have to 🙂

    Diane, Heather, E.Arroyo & Shannon, thnaks! I figured the fantasy settings were not getting as much attention as they deserved and decided to do a fun one. 🙂

    Shannon, cake is like one of the most magnificent things there is. Where would we be without cake?

    Have a great week everyone!

  10. Shannon says:

    Very, very cool… I particularly liked your metaphor about the cake. Made me hungry, though … and I don’t have any cake in the cupboards … and it’s night time so the shops are closed … and I’m not nearly so motivated as to Quest to the Mighty All-Night One-Stop Shop in my fabled search for the one cake to rule them all…

    Far too many ellipsis in that statement. I think I’ll need to go on an ellipsis diet.

  11. Oh, this is a fun one, Angela! I love it!! 🙂

  12. E. Arroyo says:

    I agree. As a fantasy writer it always helps to think of new ways to engage the reader with the familiar. Thanks!

  13. Heather says:

    As a fantasy writer I’ve got to say, I LOVE this one! Not to mention, your examples are the bomb! They put me right into the story and breathed life to it.

  14. Diane says:

    Great examples! Very talented you are… :O)

  15. Love it, Angela. Visit dragon lairs often, do you? 😀

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