Setting Thesaurus Entry: Old Abandoned Mine


Rough rock walls, thick cracked support beams (along sides & roof) every few metres down the shaft, dust, rick crumbles, dirt, debris blown in from outside (twigs, leaves, paper garbage/fliers), old broken pick handles, bits of chain, rusted nails/screws, old rails for carts, a rusted out/broken handcart, a forgotten hazard cone, broken or smashed in lunch box, pools of standing water, flooded areas, water seeping from walls, break off rooms in case of a cave in, low ceilings, drill marks in the walls, bits of blasting wire, bats, insects, blocked off shafts, rotted wood & plywood, uneven ground, narrow walkways, water dripping from roof, candle wax drippings off of stakes placed in drill holes to hold candles, smashed-in lantern, bits of hose, cave ins and rock falls, your flashlight beam or headlamp picking up its reflection off of puddles of water or slick walls, bones from small creatures (mice, lizard, bat) near the entrance that came in and died.


Echos, boots on rock, accidentally kicking loose stone, creaking, shifting timber, dripping water, amplified sounds from outside through the rock (trucks driving by, construction, etc), heavier breathing at being in a confined space, wind blowing down a shaft from a breach or exit, the rumble of a cave in, voices


Stale, moist air, cold stone, must, mildew, scummy standing water, sweat, dust (noxious gases: many mines have stores of gasses like Carbon monoxide or radon gas which do not have a smell making them very dangerous--some are also flammable)


The tang of cold rock, saliva, sweat, grit in teeth


Cold, slippery rock, dry, rough work gloves rubbing against fingers, back pain from bent back to maneuver through the tight spaces, smacking head on a low ceiling, bashing/scraping knees as you crawl through low tunnels, the slip of perspiration down the back of the neck, skinning knuckles on rock, banging a hip or elbow in the tight spaces, brushing up against other people in close quarters, walking on a backward slant as you descend, slipping/sliding on loose debris on the walkway, dusty silt drifting through a crack and landing on your face/neck, a flashlight gripped in the hand tightly, smacking flashlight against palm if it starts to flicker, pulling collar up as the air grows frigid, flexing fingers for warmth, aches flare up in knees and other joints as the cool settles deeper in your body, chalky fingers from dust

Helpful hints:

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

Example 1:

Janet handed me her flashlight as she pulled back the rotting plywood covering the shaft. The wood splintered as she chucked it into the dead scrub nearby, leaving a yawning black hole. I swung the beam toward it but the light barely pierced the gloom. This had been my idea, but suddenly my brain was filled with thoughts of homework and tests to study for. I glanced at Janet, who crossed her arms and gave me a knowing smirk. "You going first, or am I?"

Example 2:

When the flashlight flickered, Adam froze. The rough rock walls crept closer each time the beam threatened to leave. His heart pounded faster as he jerked the backpack off his shoulder. When he crouched to root through the bag for his spare batteries, his knee grated against the rough gravel chips covering the floor. The pain was distant compared to the part of his mind that had started up a what if game...what if he had forgotten to bring them? Or what if they had fallen out?

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

Example 1: (Simile)

The tour guide called for us to hold up a minute because he wanted to show us something. Then with a sadistic grin, he flicked the switch that killed the lights all along the shaft. My breath tucked itself away in my chest, refusing to come out. The darkness was beyond imagining, like a night sky with no hope for reaching dawn.

Example 2: (Metaphor)

I secured the straps on the heavy, over sized miner's hat for the tour but it was no use...I'd have an easier time juggling a brick on my head.

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Shannon O'Donnell said...

Fabulous examples! Your posts remind me of Alexander Pope and the poem, "Sound and Sense". I love the way he tells us how to write, while showing us at the same time! That's what you do. ;-)

PJ Hoover said...

No freaking way. I have an old abandoned mine in my current WIP!

C.R. Evers said...

another awesome post! You Rawk!

Bish Denham said...

I continue to be surprised. Reading your setting thesaurus is often like being at the setting!

Angela said...

Shannon, Thanks so mich for your kind words. :-)

PJ, this post is totally selfish. I have a MG that has a big part of the plot taking place in an abandoned mine. Glad it helps you too!

CR, thanks!

Bish, thanks so much! I really enjoy doing these.

Janice said...

I love your post. Great example of descriptive words and how to use them.



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