Setting Thesaurus Entry: Basement


Wooden steps, cement floor with small cracks in it, floor drain, cobwebs, bare bulb light with a string pull switch, washing machine, dryer, freezer, boxes, recycling bins, bins full of Christmas/Halloween/Thanksgiving decorations, old electronics stacked in a corner, run down or broken furniture, shelves with food cans, preserves, cases of light bulbs, warehouse packs (toilet paper, paper towel, other 'bulk household supplies', laundry soap, bleach, dryer sheets, stain remover, laundry tub or sink, pile of rags, trash can full of old dryer sheets and lint, shadowy corners, boxes piled up, a jumbled row of paint cans, seasonal supplies (golf club storage, sports equipment, work out equipment, camping gear) broken TVs, VCRs, DVD players, old sagging boxes of records, baby supplies/equipment, stacks of newspapers for recycling, spiders, bare beams/drywall/insulation, grungy mat placed in front of washer and dryer, Furnace, filters, hot water tank, old rolls of extra carpet/lino/boxes of extra floor tile, tools, electrical box, pipes (copper & plastic) dryer hose, wiring running along the ceiling/walls, dust, dirt, damp spots on walls, mildew, mold, broken lamps, storage cupboards, ironing board


Footsteps walking overhead, the dryer slapping clothes around, a chugging washing machine, creaky steps, the raspy noise of a cardboard box sliding against the floor, the click and then whoomp of a furnace pilot light catching, clicking/ticking of metal when the furnace shuts off (metal contracting), the gurgle of water in the pipes, scratching noises, creaking, the groan of a shifting wood beam, creaky storage cupboard doors, buzzer on dryer going off, the slam of a dryer door or washer lid


Must, mold, mildew, scented dryer sheets, laundry soap, bleach, cleaners & cleaning supplies, hot clothing from the dryer, damp clothes from the laundry, wet boxes, rot, an ozone-like tang from metal/cement


Bitter saliva (fear), a tang in the mouth from the damp cement walls and floor, dry mouth


Running a hand along the wall for balance on the stairs, stairs moving underfoot (slight give), a shaky banister, yanking on a pull cord to turn on the light, running up or down stairs on tiptoe for silence and speed, clenched fists, tension in body, bumping into boxes, knocking over stacked objects (paint cans, junk, toys that the kids have outgrown), peeling back cardboard flaps to search for something in a box, lifting/heaving to get a a box or other item, sorting through junk (lifting, paging through, stacking, rearranging, shoving, pushing, climbing awkwardly over items), the feel of warm laundry on hands and arms as you fold, the clammy chill of the air on the skin, moving cold, wet laundry out of the washer and chucking it into the dryer, holding hands out in front of you if you're in the dark or feeling the air ahead with hands or feet, the weight of a full laundry basket, carrying it up or down the stairs

Helpful hints:

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

Example 1:

Martha flicked on the switch and raced down the creaky steps, her crayon pail swaying in one hand. Daddy had stacked all the empty moving boxes in a tower next to the washing machine and had told her she could do whatever she liked with them. She stared at the mountain of cardboard, imagining it as a grand castle. A flattened box could become her drawbridge and if she swirled the dirty blue towels sitting in the laundry hamper around the walls, she'd even have a moat.

Example 2:

Brock let his foot sink onto the first creaky stair. While the light up here seemed bright enough, it didn't push much further than a few feet beyond the bottom of the stairwell. The tool chest Dad sent him down here for seemed impossibly far away, past shadowy stacks of camping gear and broken furniture. He swallowed, then spun back to the door. Maybe he'd just grab a flashlight first.

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

Example 1: (Simile)

When I reached the top of the stairs, I hit the light switch. Below in the darkness the washing machine slurped and sloshed and burped, like a monster enjoying a tasty meal.

Example 2: (Metaphor)

The smell emanating from a stack of boxes in Grandma's basement almost turned me cross-eyed. In the dim light, I made out the word, mementos scrawled across each of them. Mementos of what, her days as a serial killer?

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Bish Denham said...

Why is it so many basements are spooky? I've only known a few in my life, and all of them held an eerie aura.

Robyn Campbell said...

Below in the darkness the washing machine slurped and sloshed and burped, like a monster enjoying a tasty meal.

Oh Angela, that is a TERRIFIC use of a sentence. As a kid, that is what I thought when going out to the utility room(that's what they're called in South Florida) in the dark and the washer was in use.

I love the setting Thesaurus. Thanks! :)

Kelly said...

Great entry!
Hee, Granny the serial killer...

Mary Witzl said...

This reminds me of what a chore it was to clean out our old basement. Nothing I did to it got rid of the smell of mold or mouse droppings. (But don't forget the cockroaches! Wish I could...)

Angela said...

Bish, I don't know for sure, but i think it's the idea were underground, like in a coffin. The dark walls, the cold, the dank smells...CREEPY.

Thanks Robyn (and I didn't know it was called a utility room--neat!)

Thanks Kelly. Hah, I love the idea of sweet ol grannies having dark double lives, and so it comes out in my posts!

Mary, if there is one thing I love about living in Canada, it is the fact that we have no roaches. They can't survive the winter. I like bugs, but roaches? *shudders*

N A Sharpe said...

I love this thesaurus! How cool. Basements always come with so much imagery...usually kinda creepy. I love this entry.

Nancy, from Realms of Thought…


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