Cramped wooden stalls, sweaty vendors, bright fabric roofing or simple framing to hang merchandise from, wares laid out on cloth or leaves (food, vegetables, jewelry, weaponry, books, bright bolts of cloth and silk, spices, fruit, alcohol/ale, clothing & shoes, elixirs &…
Haggling, bartering, sellers hawking wares, people calling out to friends, laughter, animals braying/barking/clucking, creaking wagons as they pass, the clop of horses’ hooves, mugs hitting the tabletop, people calling for service in eating areas or outdoor drinking…
Spices, grilling meats, yeast from baked bread, sweat, rot from alleyway middens, dust, char, smoke, over-ripe fruit, manure, oils, leather, perfume, ale
Ale, beer/wine, fresh juices, spicy meats, bread & rolls, sweet rolls, candied fruit, roasted nuts, kabobs
Cobbles underfoot, stepping to avoid refuse, manure or muddy patches, tripping on loose clay, stroking fabric for quality, testing buckles, ties and straps for durability, hefting the weight of something (a knife blade, pot, etc), fingering a handful of coin as you decide…
–The words you choose can convey atmosphere and mood.
Example 1: Whenever possible, Marcel would fetch water early, crossing Market Square at dawn as the vendors arrived to set up their booths. The sunlight fell gentle on his shoulders and the air still held that crisp, dewy smell. Sometimes he would linger a moment or two, admiring bead work on a festival shirt or the sheen of a dagger’s blade, dreaming of the day that he could afford such things…
–Similes and metaphors create strong imagery when used sparingly.
Example 1: (Simile) Inside the ring of brightly decorated booths, villagers packed the grassy common like a corral of sheep waiting to be fleeced…
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.
dont want to sound annoying but i have a request……your setting thesaurus is SUPERB so i was wondering if you could write one entry on the REGENCY ERA….PLEEEEEAAAASSSEEE….
Medeia Sharif says
I’m fascinated with medieval times. But listening to teachers and professors when I was younger, I began to think of it as a smelly, unwashed era.
Traci Kenworth says
Wohoo!! I LOVE the medieval period and I’m sure I’ll definitely use this along the way!!
What a wonderful, evocative collection! And so generous of you to share it – thank you!
I thank thee, Angela!
Becca Puglisi says
Love the ‘gauntlet of temptation’ comparison. Great job, Angela!
The Golden Eagle says
I have a few market scenes that could definitely benefit from this–thanks for the post!
Stina Lindenblatt says
This makes me jealous that I don’t write fantasy or historical romances. 😉
Smells are key, this being the era after the Roman baths, no aqueducts, open sewers and little or no soap.
Coral Russell says
Nice idea! 🙂
love this one 🙂
The All Real Numbers Symbol says
Neat! Thanks for the post!
Jeff King says
Since I write medieval fantasy, your examples hit home. I love visiting your blog; I always learn something vital, something that makes my writing stronger.
Your writing examples are strong and easy to understand, and that helps me put them into practice.
Thx for all you do…
I love this one! Thanks! 🙂
Michelle Gregory says
this is great. now i just need a medieval army camp.
Kristi Bernard says
I love to use the 5 senses when I write. I especially love smells. Thanks for sharing.
Laura Pauling says
This a great one! I’m sure it will get a lot of use! 🙂 Thanks.
Bish Denham says
Good one! I should think there’d been the strong aroma of sewage, people threw their waste into the street. And body odor…