Setting Thesaurus Entry: Medieval Markets


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…

Helpful hints:

–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…

Think beyond what a character sees, and provide a sensory feast for readers

Logo-OneStop-For-Writers-25-smallSetting 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.

The Setting Thesaurus DuoOn 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. You can find Becca online at both of these spots, as well as on Facebook and Twitter.
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18 Responses to Setting Thesaurus Entry: Medieval Markets

  1. Raisa says:

    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….

  2. 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.

  3. Wohoo!! I LOVE the medieval period and I’m sure I’ll definitely use this along the way!!

  4. anna says:

    What a wonderful, evocative collection! And so generous of you to share it – thank you!

  5. mgudlewski says:

    I thank thee, Angela!

  6. Love the ‘gauntlet of temptation’ comparison. Great job, Angela!


  7. I have a few market scenes that could definitely benefit from this–thanks for the post!

  8. This makes me jealous that I don’t write fantasy or historical romances. 😉

  9. ralfast says:

    Smells are key, this being the era after the Roman baths, no aqueducts, open sewers and little or no soap.


  10. mshatch says:

    love this one 🙂

  11. 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…

  12. Meredith says:

    I love this one! Thanks! 🙂

  13. this is great. now i just need a medieval army camp.

  14. I love to use the 5 senses when I write. I especially love smells. Thanks for sharing.

  15. This a great one! I’m sure it will get a lot of use! 🙂 Thanks.

  16. 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…

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