Rocky shoreline, gravel, water lapping the shore, skimmers, minnows scuttling between the rocks, ducks, geese (plucking grass from the lush slope, swimming in the reeds, preening, herding babies) seagulls searching for garbage left behind on the beach or…
The roar of on board motors, a patterned ‘whump, whump, whump’ as a speedboat goes over it’s own wake and hits the waves, music from portable players, talking/laughing or visitors eating or spending the day at the lake, the gentle lap of water hitting the shoreline…
The peaty smell of algae, fresh air, food cooking on portable grills, grass, wet earth, water, gasoline fumes from boats, sunscreen, snacks like Doritos or popcorn with strong odors, flowers, seaweed or rotten vegetation at the edge
Food cooked off a portable grill (burgers, hot dogs, chicken, ribs) potato salad, chips, pop, coleslaw, take out (like a bucket of KFC or McDonald’s), beer, sandwiches bought or made at home, water, gum, mints
The sharp cold gravel on bare feet, the cold fluidity of water on shin, shivers, grass sliding past bare ankles, pulling or tugging a bathing suit into place, water seeping through shoes or sandals, sand caught in shoes and other places, sand gritty on skin, the grease of…
–The words you choose can convey atmosphere and mood.
Example 1: Donna leaned forward on the blanket and curled her arms around her knees. Sunlight massaged warmth into her back and she closed her eyes, letting go of all the stress from the work week–a yelling boss, reports piling up on her desk, missed deadlines. Instead she filled herself with the smell of the fresh air, the sound of the water gently slapping against the shore and feathery slide of the wind blowing her hair across her bare shoulders. Bliss…
–Similes and metaphors create strong imagery when used sparingly.
Example 1: (Metaphor) A net of slimy weeds snagged my legs, keeping me from the water’s surface…
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.
Becca Puglisi is an international speaker, writing coach, and bestselling author of The Emotion Thesaurus and its sequels. Her books are available in five languages, are sourced by US universities, and are used by novelists, screenwriters, editors, and psychologists around the world. She is passionate about learning and sharing her knowledge with others through her Writers Helping Writers blog and via One Stop For Writers—a powerhouse online library created to help writers elevate their storytelling.
I can’t believe how much work you put into these entries. Now you’ve got me thinking about how to put a lake setting in my manuscript!
I’ve got a lake in mine too!! It’s featured in many of my stories, so these details will help me “paint” a clearer picture. Thanks so much!!
I *love* this! Thank you!
C.R. Evers says
makes me want to go to the lake! Congrats on another great list!
When I saw the subject I thought, “Lake, Big Lake” from Sixteen Candles.
Another great entry!
Carol Riggs says
Great list, and I especially loved the “whump, whump, whump” of the speedboat! Have a great weekend.
Laura Pauling says
You did this on purpose, didn’t you? Knowing it was going to be freezing this weekend! 🙂 Alas, I don’t have a small lake in my story, but I do in my town and it’s frozen over. Waaa!
Oh, you guys, there’s a lake in my WIP. I love you! 🙂
Angela Ackerman says
Yes, this one was a nice one to do on a cold winter day, lol.
apologies to anyone confused by the empty post this am…we had some tech difficulties but sorted them out. Have a great weekend!
Shannon O'Donnell says
I have a small lake area planned for my new WIP. Yay! This will be great!
Two days ago,I printed copies of over half of your setting thesaurus entries so I have them handy when I begin writing. You guys are truly a wonderful resource.
Karen Lange says
Brings me back to my childhood – there was a lake at a state park we often went to…Great stuff, thanks so much!
Have a good weekend,
Heather Hellmann says
Your descriptions make me long for summer. Beautiful.