Well worn seats, stained or dirty floor mats, gum wrappers on the floor, semi-crushed Kleenex box above the backseat licence ID of driver displayed, smudged windows, digital display of meter, signs regarding passenger conduct/legalities, cell phone, radioing…
Music on the radio, matching the taste of the driver, discussions on a cell or radio between driver and dispatcher, squeaky springs in the seats down a bumpy road, traffic noise outside, humming, small talk, the click of a seat belt, blips on the meter, the driver hitting…
Old carpet and fabric seats, dirt, dust, the cabbie’s lunch breath, lingering odors of coffee and food eaten in the car, cologne or perfume, hair products, sweat
Popping a sweet mint or breath freshening gum in the mouth before arriving at destination, the cabbie taking a mouthful of take out food as he drives, water, coffee
The give of bouncy seats, strapping a seat belt over lap, pulling on the door handle, pointing a building out to the cabbie, straightening clothing, smoothing wrinkles, checking self in the mirror, tousling hair, fixing make up, digging in a pocket, wallet or purse for cab…
–The words you choose can convey atmosphere and mood.
Example 1: As I settled into the spongy seat and pulled the door shut, I caught a strong whiff of Kung Pao chicken. Great–just my luck that I’d end up with a driver with a lust for Sichuan cuisine. I barked out the address and then sat back to wait, taking as few breaths as possible. A take out container sat between the seats, dripping vomit-yellow sauce. The driver popped one of those useless complementary thank you candies into his mouth like that would help. Places like his lunch stop should be forced to hand mouthwash or breath strips instead…
–Similes and metaphors create strong imagery when used sparingly.
Example 1: (Simile) The cabbie spun the wheel erratically like a DJ running turntables at an all ages club. Either he had no idea where he was going or he hoped that tossing his passengers from side to side might dislodge spare change from their pockets, padding his paycheck a little…
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.