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.