There is a forest entry already, but I think that at night the woods can be an entirely different setting, full of mystery and sometimes fear. I figured it deserved its own entry! Notice how other senses are utilized more so than sight–an unusual occurrence.
Dark tree trunks, shadows, overhanging limbs across the path seen at the last second, clumps of bushes, barely visible black trails snaking through the undergrowth, moon shining through a lattice of leaves, patchy sky & stars seen in glimpses through tree breaks, tall shadowed pines stretching up like arrows into the sky, streaks of cloud against the…
Wind slipping through leaves, cracking undergrowth with each step, creaking tree trunks, the flutter of wings unseen, snapping twigs, grass and weed sliding against pant legs, breathing sounds, coyote calls, fox yipping, wolves howling (if within location), snarls, padding feet along a trail, a grunt of pain at catching a root or tripping on dead fall, a rip of…
Rich earth, rotting leaves, pine needles, fresh air, a slight scent of flowers, earthy fungus, tree sap, wild animal musk (if close), possibly the spray of a skunk (if around), green growing things (spring & summer), moss
Sweat on lips, dryness in throat, sometimes a cold metallic tang if lots of stone is present
Cobwebs in face, cold, dewy leaves sliding across skin, slipping on wet leaves and mushrooms, tripping on bumpy roots, stones, dead fall, thorns scratching skin, scrapes and cuts on hands from falling in the dark, pine needles embedded in skin during fall, twisting and jerking at every unfamiliar sound, holding hands out to ward off unseen obstacles like tree…
–Think about the conflict that might be present in your setting.
Your character’s emotions will be on high alert at night because their visibility is low, making it a great time to insert conflict. This Conflict Scenario Database is loaded with ideas to help you.
–The words you choose can convey atmosphere and mood.
Example 1: Devin dove behind a wide cedar trunk just off the trail. Heart slamming against his ribs, he gulped at the air, trying to slow his breathing enough to hear. Back in the shadows, branches thrashed and snapped as Valio growled sharp orders to his men. Sunset had finally drained out of the sky overhead, sheathing the woods in shadow. Devin pressed his face against the bark, the ridges biting into his skin, and tried to become one with the tree…
–Similes and metaphors create strong imagery when used sparingly.
Example 1: (Simile) Eileen worked her way along the narrow trail, leaves sliding across her bare forearms like wet tongues…
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.