Security guard, video cameras, cashier wickets, pen on a chain, table for deposit slips, envelopes, forms, etc Tellers, Bank Manager behind desk, computer monitors, computers, drawers of cash, traveller’s cheques, filing cabinets, stamps and stamp pads, cash machines, mortgage signs, investment offers, counting machines, waiting area, offices, bank vault, stairs leading to vault and safety deposit boxes…
The ruffle of paper as bills are counted by hand, the sound of the teller’s voice as she rattles off amounts, the thunk of a stamp on paperwork, a teller calling, “next’, soft music in the background, coughing, people speaking in low voices…
Cleaner (pine, lemon, ammonia, paper, ink from cash, warm electronics (kind of a dusty-ozone type scent), perfume/cologne mingling in the air…
Cheap candies from the bowl, mints, gum, water, coffee, tea
Pushing the door open, walking to the back of the line, shifting weight as you wait, digging in purse, checking cell phone for messages/texts, clasping hands in front of you while you wait, tugging wallet out of a pocket, leaning on service counter with elbows…
–The words you choose can convey atmosphere and mood.
Example 1: Stamp, stamp, slide the drawer open, count the bills and slide the drawer shut. That was my life, handing cash across a marble counter to an assortment of people all with bigger bank accounts than I’d ever have. Just once I’d like to slide my fingers into the cool metal drawer, place my back to the security camera and take a little something for myself.
–Similes and metaphors create strong imagery when used sparingly.
Example 1: (Simile)
The line stretched and twisted along the roped queue like an impatient, foot shifting centipede.
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. 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, a portal to powerful, innovative tools to help writers elevate their storytelling.
Riv Re says
Stumbling through on the code hunt. Very surprised you didn’t hide anything here 😉
Christina Farley says
Fantastic as usual. Have you done one on island? I didn’t see one. Do you take requests? 🙂
If so that’s mine
Jan Markley says
Then there’s the whole bank machine experience with the camera staring at you!
Angela Ackerman says
Great adds, you guys! HOW could I FORGET the smell of cold hard cash??? I guess I’m not around it enough so it slipped my mind, lol.
Amie Kaufman says
This is so evocative — it’s one thing to tell people to bring their setting to life, another to provide a list like this that proves how many options are available in doing so. Valuable lesson, thank you!
Susanne Drazic says
These are good. Not sure I would have thought about the smells you find in a bank. I think my mind would have been blank on that one.
Here are some (I’ve experienced) for sounds:
– whining kids
– babies crying
– coins dropping on the floor
Mary Witzl says
Ooh, I’m first!
I like your examples, as always, especially the soccer mother worried about her balance. But in the smell section, you forgot the smell of crisp, clean money. I’d like to smell that again some day myself…
Bish Denham says
My bank has a popcorn machine, so sometimes when I go in there’s the sound and/or smell of popcorn. Yum.
It shows methods of setting a scene really well…
Karen Lange says
Great, as always!
Julie Musil says
You’re a genius! Thank you