Setting Description Entry: Bedrooms



bed, night stand, dresser, armoire, make-up table, desk and chair, picture frame, window, closet, mirror, bookshelf, clothes hamper, wastebasket, wall shelves, phone, lamp, computer, notepads, books, rug, curtains, shade/blinds, wallpaper, bedspread, pillows, posters, cork board with pictures/flyers/announcements pinned to it, knick-knacks, alarm clock, stereo, entertainment center, game system, TV, CD/DVD collection, computer, overstuffed chair, bean bag chair, clothes, shoes, soda cans/half-full glass, homework textbooks, iPod/MP3, gumball machine, oval rug

female: frilly, flowery, lacy, soft, pink/purple/yellow, hearts, stuffed animals, make-up/hair products, perfume, decorative pillows, canopy bed, diary, fuzzy-topped pencils, nail polish, bracelets, bangles, earrings, rings and other jewelry, feather boas, posters of dogs, cats, hot guys (movie stars, musicians), shoes with colorful laces, furry slippers, fluffy robe, hair ties, scrunchies, rubber bands, a packed closet, shoe rack, memorabilia/collections/decor themed to interests: horses, soccer, glamour, Paris, art, music, etc) a beaded fringe lamp

male: sports memorabilia, geometric, spartan, darker colors, rumpled bedsheets, clothes on the floor, messy, dusty, CD collection, posters of girls (beach babes, film stars, Army, Action movies), toy guns, airsoft guns, action figures, lego, comic books, gaming magazines, over-flowing laundry hamper, basketball hoop on door or over garbage can, a pet (hamster, gerbil, mice, guinea pig, etc) Hockey/baseball cards, candy stash, sunglasses


Music blaring, murmur of TV or talking on the phone, laughter, tick of a clock, radio alarm, click of computer keys while IMing, cat or dog scratching to get in, trill of a cell phone, squeaky bed spring, whispering, outdoor sounds leaking in through a cracked window (airplanes overhead, birds, dogs barking, cars driving past, etc), yawning, whir of a blow dryer, clatter of sorting through jewelry, the clink and ping of hangers being moved in the closet, drawers sliding open and shut, the slam of a door, a knock at the door, crinkle and shuffle of pages flipping in a book or magazine


Perfume, hairspray, nail polish, model glue, body spray, deodorant, clean linen, sweat, rotting food, bubblegum, fabric softener, dust, wet towels, a whiff of dinner cooking in the kitchen, a spicy cheese smell from an open bag of Doritos on the desk, dirty, musty socks,


Bubblegum, the bitter taste of hairspray, breath mints, peanut butter and jam sandwich on a plate, a banana, granola bar, sugary pop, water, energy drinks, candies, chips, tobacco (sneaking a cigarette)


silky, clean sheets, the unwelcoming hardness of pressing the alarm button, cool, smooth desktop, fuzzy sweaters, itchy sweaters, slippery t shirts, rough Cotton jeans, cool walls, soft, sinkable bead, balling up paper, tossing it into a garbage bin, lace curtains or bedding, petting the soft fur of a snoozing cat or dog, glossy cold magazine covers, a puff of warmth from a heating vent, the stirring of air against face and hair of a fan, gritty, unsweapt floors, sticky carpet or rug, sweeping off chip crumbs scattered across the nightstand or pilling against the bed comforter

Helpful hints:

--The words you choose can convey atmosphere and mood.

Example 1:

When I could put it off no more, I tiptoed into Great Aunt BeeBee's room. The floor was cold and gritty, dust and crumbs and who knows what else clinging to my bare feet. My only light came from a slit between the sagging curtains at the window, the feeble brightness barely enough for me to make out anything. I crept closer, trying to not gag on the smell of sweat and sickness. On the floor beside the bed I could just make out a twisted lump of blankets, but I couldn't get up the courage to touch it. Please don't be dead, I thought. I strained my ears for the sound of her rusty breath, and again remembered the sickening thump that had woken me.

Example 2:

Once I was sure my cousin Sadie had left, I ran up to her room. Signs plastered the door, taped every which way but all with the same message: keep out. Ever since I'd moved in, that message and the stony glares from Sadie were enough to keep me from entering. But now, today, that would change.

I wondered what would lie beyond the door--I imagined a hodge-podge of colors, as scratchy and prickly to look at as Sadie's clothing ensembles. As I pushed the door open, I gasped. Every inch of the room was a bright, suffocating white--white walls, white furniture, white carpet. A fuzzy white lampshade sat on a white bedside table, next to her white clock radio. Plump white pillows, a white comforter and white uncluttered surfaces gleamed in their whiteness. At the window, stark white curtains carefully sealed out an intrusive view of the backyard, and as I stepped back out of the room, I couldn't help but think the only thing missing was white padded walls and a straight jacket.

--Similes and metaphors create strong imagery when used sparingly.

Example 1: (Simile)

I followed on Anna's heels, catching the bedroom door seconds before it could slam in my face. Enraged, I sucked in a deep breath and pushed the door wide. My words curdled into nothing at the mess greeting me--clothes, text books and muddy shoes lay across the floor in knotted clumps, pages from a teen magazine peppered the walls and CDs marched across the unmade bed like a ticker tape parade.

Example 2: (Metaphor)

Mom lifted her hands from my eyes to show me her suprise of a newly decorated room. Bubble gum pink assaulted me: fresh pink walls, curtains, a frilly pink princess bed with a curved pink canopy above it. Gone was my battered, sticker-encrusted desk, my collection of rock hero posters, my drum set. I turned away from the cotton candy explosion, tears in my eyes. "Did you just meet me?" I screamed, pushing past her.


Marian said...

This detail leaped out at me :

"the unwelcoming hardness of pressing the alarm button"

Sounds like a bedroom of the rich and famous. :) I love looking at pictures of bedrooms in books on decorating and interior design and imagining how I'll decorate my bedroom some day. Maybe I'll have one of those low tables with padded tops as well.

GutsyWriter said...

Thanks for helping us again and again in our writing. It must take you a long time to put together your postings. A lesson plan in itself. I still have your emotional thesaurus on my laptop every time I rewrite a chapter and need more show and less tell.

Angela said...

I like the interior design mags too. I think it's because I have a hard time imagining the potential of a room without some visual aids. I'm currently looking into remodling my kitchen, and my head reels at all the options and choices there are! Becca must be much better at this than I (and I wish she lived closer!) because she recently did a big reno in her new home.

Gutsywriter, one of the best things about this blog (and all online writing groups) is the ability to learn together. Becca and I have had such a great experience by pairing up and working through our writing woes, it was something we wanted to share on a bigger basis.

Each time we do an entry, we learn as we go, flexing the imaginative muscle to come up with descriptions and emotional actions that feel real.

PJ Hoover said...

I'm sleepy just reading it!
Love this!

Rachel Burton said...

Hey, wandered over from AW and poked around! These thesaurus posts are incredible. What a fantastic resource.

Angela said...

*Gives some warm milk to PJ*

Thanks for coming over Rachel--we're glad you found us!

Bish Denham said...

Boy do I know about bedrooms! My room was ALWAYS such a total and complete mess that my dad put a sign on my door that read, "Danger Disaster Area Three Feet Deep." It remained on my door for many years.

Terra Chandler said...

Brilliant! This could actually double, somewhat, for a hotel room (with a few minor tweeks and add ons....smell...blech). Anyways, great stuff! Thanks for the inspiration!!

Hudson said...

I love your blog, thank you for pointing out the little things that go unobserved but are a great importance to each and everyone of our stories!
By any chance would you be writing any of these for different time periods?
Either way, thank you for the inspiration!

Angela Ackerman said...


It is possible we would, but if so it would be when (and if) we put the Setting Thesaurus into a book version. :) So glad this is helpful to you! :)


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