Setting Description Entry: Urban Street

Sights
cars, trucks, SUVs, bicycles, delivery trucks, pedestrians, homeless people, stray dogs, pavement, reflectors, sidewalks, cigarette butts on the ground, litter, broken glass, concrete medians, street lights, small trees with fences around them, street signs, billboards, stores, restaurants, gas stations, banks, glass windows, office buildings, skyscrapers, apartment buildings, basketball courts, schools, chained-down garbage cans, flashing crosswalk signs, dingy alleys, dumpsters, chainlink fences, corner food vendors, windows/doors with bars on them, sun shining off of car windows and mirrors, potholes

Sounds
honking, tires screeching, alarms going off, cars speeding by or slowing down, wheels bumping over reflectors, shoes clacking/slapping against pavement, whirr of bicycle tires, voices talking/shouting/laughing, cell phones ringing, car doors slamming, store doors scraping open, music from cars and shops, wind whistling between buildings, children yelling from schoolyards, thump of basketballs, rattle of fences, muffled voices from fast-food drive-throughs, tinkle of broken glass

Smells
exhaust, gas fumes, rubber, hot pavement, cigarette smoke, garbage, urine, food smells from restaurants and corner vendors, sweat, incense/potpourri/fragrance from nearby shops, sewage, old water in rain puddles

Tastes
foods: hot dogs/pretzels/soda/hamburgers/french fries/bottled water, smoky exhaust, bitter cigarettes, paper butts, soda straws, sweat, rain

Touch
gritty pavement, heat coming off the concrete, slap of shoes against sidewalk, sweat trickling, breeze blowing your hair/clothes, metallic fence under your fingers, wind from passing cars, uneven sidewalk, brick/stucco/concrete buildings, cold doorknobs, smooth cell phone in your hand, splashing water from passing cars, drizzle of rain, jarring feel as tire hits a pothole

Helpful hints:--The words you choose can convey atmosphere and mood.

Example 1: Snow dusted the gutters and the trash they contained with a humpy white blanket. It drifted down from the street lights--I swear, it jingled as it fell. Gone were the gasoline and greasy food smells; the air tasted clean, as if it had just been loosed upon the world.

Example 2: I hurried along the sidewalk, my keys pinching my palm. The wind slapped my cheeks with the scent of rusted metal and rotting take-out. Something skittered over my shoe and raced into the alley, taking my breath with it. I swore under my breath, wishing I hadn't been so cheap. Next time, I'd pay to park in the garage.

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

Example 1: (Simile) Music concussed from one vehicle after another like warring DJs in a night club.

Example 2: (Metaphor) Falafels, hot dogs, pretzels with mustard: when had Fifth Avenue turned into the State Fair?

9 comments:

Marian said...

There are some lovely turns of phrase here. I especially like, "the air tasted clean, as if it had just been loosed upon the world." That's exactly what clean, crisp winter air feels like.

Becca said...

Thanks, Marian! Clean air--sad to think that some day we may need a record of it to remind us what it was really like.

PJ Hoover said...

Nice! I can use this TODAY in my revisions!

GutsyWriter said...

Hi guys,

You really don't waste time getting back to business. Thanks for amazing descriptions. How long does it take you to make these lists?

Angela said...

Becca's probably faster than me...maybe an hour? I struggle on the similies and metaphors. Some days they come, bam, just like that, other times...I have to yank them out of the imaginative ooze.

C.R. Evers said...

You never cease to amaze me! Another great list!

Christy

Becca said...

Thanks, Christy!

Yeah, it's probably about an hour for me, too. the hardest ones are the places I haven't been, or haven't visited in a long time. Since I'm fairly sure Angela hasn't been to the rainforest, either, that one should be a little sparse. :)

Natalie Hatch said...

Thanks girls you are awesome.

Mary Witzl said...

I liked the clean air too -- wish we had more of that here; it's cold right now, but it is as clean and crisp as it could be.

I've been revising and my characters are indeed rolling their eyes and sighing far too much. I may be visiting here a lot more...

Happy New Year!

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