Dried bunches of flowers/herbs hanging from the roof, mortar/pestle, cheesecloth, knife and cutting board, butcher’s block table, water barrel, shelves with glass jars filled with seeds/ground roots/ground metals/oils/pods/bark/fungi/honeycomb/etc, bubbling pot…
Scissors snipping, the papery rasp of herbs in the mortar and pestle, the tearing of bark being peeled from a limb, bubbling pots on the stove, a dry leafy rustle as a breeze bumps bunches of herbs and flowers drying from the rafters, steam hissing, remedies spilling over…
Herbs (sage, thyme, basil, rosemary), mint, licorice root, musty roots and barks, sweet/fragrant flowers (lavender, heather) a moldy dark odor of fungus, sweat, dirt, woodsmoke, the gamy smell of illness and infection (if a patient is present)
Bitter teas, tinctures and tonics, water, mint leaves to settle stomach upsets, lemon, flower petals, lavender
Crushing dried herbs in the palm, sorting through bunches of flowers to select an ingredient, peeling bark, the silky feel of flower petals, wiping hands with apron or cloth, rubbing a hand against a sweaty forehead, back strain from attending a remedy simmering…
–The words you choose can convey atmosphere and mood.
Example 1: I swept the straw bristles across the dusty floor, scraping purple petal bits and birch bark curls into a pile. Scents, pungent and sweet, tingled my nose and brought a secret smile to my lips. Mama thought sending me to help Nan was a punishment, but I loved coming here. Surrounded by bundles of craggy roots, leaves and strange plants, grey-haired Nan would grind and peel and crush, talking all the while about what each seed, leaf or petal could be used for…
–Similes and metaphors create strong imagery when used sparingly.
Example 1: (Simile) Hanging over the hot coals, the blackened lid jittered against the boiling pot like chattering teeth…
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.
Jaleh D says
I’m probably going to be utilizing items from this entry very soon. Great stuff here.
Marian Perera says
This one’s perfect for me! Your lists always appeal to the senses as well as the mind, but when something taps into fantasy it’s even more useful.
Jennifer Probst says
I love drowning in the imagery and feeling all of my senses engaged. Thanks so much for reminding me to incorporate this in my writing. Wonderful post.
Elana Johnson says
Ooh, I love the image/sound of papery things moving. Like dried herbs or whatever. Great job!
Excellent Angela!!! Keep them coming, I’m really loving them!
Laura Pauling says
Good timing. How did you know there was an herb/healthy store in my wip? Thanks!
I have to say, this one is one of my favorites!
Medeia Sharif says
Reading this, I could feel/see the shop in my mind.
Jan Markley says
I love the detail and the sensory imagery.
Oh. My. Gosh. I love you for this! I love writing fantasy stories, and this is exactly the sort of thing that could be useful. Brilliant, as usual!
Tricia J. O'Brien says
mmmmmmm, I feel like taking in a deep breath, reveling in those scents. This is a place I’d like to hang out. Beautiful job, Angela.
Mary Witzl says
I like this one too, Angela — you’ve pretty much described my kitchen!
The book I’m trying to sell features a herbalist. I wish I’d had come here before I wrote it, but I can always come back to this post when I’m doing revisions.
Holly Ruggiero, Southpaw says
Oooo, I like this one a lot.
What a resource this blog is, Angela. The lists alone create the setting, never mind using the items in a story. 🙂
Jeff King says
Nice work… keep them coming.
Karen Lange says
Love this. Reminds me of the Apothecary Shop in Williamsburg, VA.
Have a great weekend,
Shannon O'Donnell says
Oh, my students will absolutely love this one. I’ve bookmarked it for next week! Yay. 🙂
Robyn Campbell says
Angela, I love example #1 on using a simile. I could see the pot on the stove. 🙂
This herbalist shop entry is amazing. Bookmarked? CHECK! 🙂