Setting Thesaurus Entry: Frozen Tundra


Blowing snow, ice, snow banks, streaking clouds, flat landscape, far-off snow capped mountain ranges, streaks and whirls on hill crests showing a pattern from the gusting wind, polar bears, rabbits, mice, prints in the snow, a few deer, hardy tufts of grass peaking out of the snow, rock formations, igloos, sleds, sled dogs, skidoos, Inuit dressed in furs and leathers, hunters with jackets ringed in animal fur, skidoo tracks, dog tracks, old fire pits/camp sites, simple tents, tents made of skins, very few trees, animal skat, fogging breath, smoke from fires, few birds, sun, bright and possibly warmless (depending on the time of year), ice crust, icicles, frozen & barren patches of dirt


Howling/whistling/tearing wind, flapping tent, the crackle/hiss of a fire, the whistle of a kettle on the fire, the crinkle of cold fabric (parka, tent, bedding), the crunch of snow beneath the boot, the steady whispering slur of runners in the snow, panting dogs, the rev of an engine, the roar of a bear, the pattering gait of huskies pulling the sled, the creak of harness and buckles, the caw of birds as they scavenge or hunt, sneezing, sniffling, coughing as a result of the cold, snow crystals rattling against coat, the crack of a snow axe cutting a handhold, the scratch of wind blowing through tufts of dry grass


Sweat, clean ozone-like smell of fresh snow, warming leather, rock, dogs & animals, fresh kills and found carrion, the wind carrying the scent of briny open water, woodsmoke, tea, coffee, roasted or raw meat, dead grass, frozen soil


Raw meat, hardtack, biscuits, jerky, tea, coffee, cooked meat, trail mix or other nutritious foods brought for the journey, the tang of melted snow, salty sweat on the lips, gamy wild meat


Wind slicing at exposed flesh, rubbing it raw, chapped skin and bleeding lips, cracked knuckles and skin from exposure, numbness in fingers and toes, sun burn on face, wind burn on cheeks and forehead, pain in the ears from constant wind, dry tongue from thirst, shaking from spent strength, breath sawing at throat, pain in lungs from cold air, the pinging darts of wind-blown snow on the skin, headaches, snow blindness, disorientation, dizziness, spasming muscles, cold snow against hands, tying frozen laces, boots packing down the snow, forcing muscles to slog through deep drifts, snow filling boots, or gloves, lying against the cold snow or leaning against the packed snow of a man-made snow cave, waiting out a storm.

Helpful hints:

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

Example 1:

I pulled the tent flap back and shielded my eyes. The sun had lit up the ice crystals, transforming the ground into snow-crusted treasure. I smiled and took a deep breath of the cold, invigorating air, glad to have such beauty accompany me on the hike to the polar bear observation station.

Example 2:

I tightened my grip on the last match, staring down at its red tip. All around me on the cold ground lay the corpses of its fellows, twisted into useless black ash. Tears streamed in my vision and I bend over the pile of dry grass tinder. If this last one failed, I would not survive another night on the freezing plain.

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

Example 1: (Simile)

I huddled in the snow shelter, my back against a hastily constructed wall, listening to the storm howl like a crazed Arctic beast.

Example 2: (Metaphor)

High morning cloud streaked the sky, a lofty white mirror of the tundra below.


Christina Farley said...

Oh this is a good one! Thanks so much! I love this site.

Mary Witzl said...

Aieee! I was cold enough to begin with! Remind me to come back here in July...

I love that metaphor about the morning cloud and the tundra.

PJ Hoover said...

This has to be the first location of yours I don't currently have in a book :)
So now I can use it in my next WIP!

GutsyWriter said...

You have no idea how your setting thesaurus helps, although the frozen Tundra won't be anything I need for my memoir in tropical Belize. I do use your emotional thesaurus daily, and have it ready for use during my revisions.
Thanks again.

lishacauthen said...

I've been scrolling through your past lists...this is an amazing site. What a lot of work! Thanks for sharing!

Natalie Hatch said...

As always you girls have pulled out a big one. Thanks for this.

Marian said...

Ok, I have to ask, Angela and Becca.

How do you guys create these entries? What's the process? Is it all through books or the Internet, or do either of you have personal experience of these great exotic places?

Angela said...

Thanks Christina!

Mary, welcome to my world. I live in Canada, after all...

PJ, glad to hear it!

Gutsy, I'm soooo jealous. Belize. *sniffle*

Lisa, I'm glad you're finding the site useful!

Natalie, glad this one helps you.

Marian, it's probably a bit of everything, except internet surfing. I've travelled quite a bit, and seeing as I live somewhere with regular cold seasons, I tend to visit tropical locations. Becca lives in Florida, so she knows lots about hot climates.

Too, one of my favorite shows is Man Vs Wild, and so he's been all over the world in different survivalist settings. That show helps quite a bit with the settings I find.

Other than that, it's probably absorbing urban settings through TV cop shows and reading, reading, reading. :-) It also helps I grew up in a small town and owned a farm, but now live in a large city, so I've seen both worlds.

Windsong said...

Very nice. :) Makes me very glad I don't live out there.

Crimogenic said...

I found your blog when a friend suggested I checked it out. Now it's one of my favorite reference sites on the web. You ladies rock!

Thanks for stopping by my blog, Angela.

Kelly said...

This feels extra cold after just getting back from Florida!
Brrrr! Great entry!


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