Setting Thesarus Entry: Church

Sight

Wooden pews, arranged into rows, a shelf on the back of each pew holding a bible and song book, an altar, pulpit, crucifixes, crosses, rosaries, decorative banners with key scenes depicted from the bible or symbols of a specific religion, flowers, clean, polished surfaces, high windows, stained glass windows, statues of important religious figures (Virgin Mary, Buddha, Christ--whatever applies) Jesus depicted on the cross with a crown of thorns, one to four aisles separating pews into sections, atrium, Baptistery (holy water), lectern with a bible on it, candles, piano, arches, mouldings, large thick wooden doors, sound system, microphone, choir, offering basket/plate, blessed wine in a goblet, blessed wafers, communion table, white tablecloths, padded bar for kneeling at pew, shrines, incense, burning candles, priest, altar boys, chalice, pamphlets, religious books, statues, rectory, confessional, donation box, church notice board, basement with a kitchen, tables and folding chairs for functions and church meals,priest/pastor

Sounds

Preaching, whispering, coughing, babies crying, children squirming against the benches, feet shuffling, hymns, piano or other instruments, choirs singing, prayer, crying, heavy breathing, silence, talking, muttering, sighs, the whisper of fabric as parishioners shift in their seats, feedback from the mike

Smells

Incense, cologne, perfume, hairspray, soap, burning candles, wood polish, cleaners, cough drops/gum/mints, clean linen

Tastes

watered down wine, tasteless wafers, gum, mints, cough drops

Touch

a wafer dissolving on the tongue, a child tugging on a sleeve as the whisper questions about when everything will be over, the hard benches numbing your buttocks, shifting, crossing and recrossing legs, kneeler board digging into knees, bumping & brushing against other people, shaking hands with those around you, making the sign of the cross, feeling constrained by tight collars, ill-fitting shoes, hot jackets or restrictive clothing, flexing toes inside your shoe, placing a fist against the mouth to cover a yawn, crossing and uncrossing arms, taking the hand of a loved one and squeezing it, standing then sitting, shifting foot to foot while standing, placing a hand on the top of the pew for balance, offering an arm to an older parishioner, rubbing at eyes, moving neck side to side to relieved strained muscles or promote wakefulness, tapping a foot during hymns or when music is played, paging through the bible or song book, taking bills out from a pocket to add to the collection plate, passing the collection plate

Helpful hints:


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

Example 1:

Nyda sat ramrod straight in the pew, her gloved hands in her lap, her gaze leveled at the polished wooden crucifix on the wall. Father Oakley's words washed over her from his pulpit as he spoke of the glory of God and how Nyda's husband was now in a better place. The glory of God. Where was God when that drunk driver got behind the wheel?

Example 2:

Holding my bouquet tightly, I stepped up to the oiled wooden doors and peered through the crack. My breath caught at the beautiful job my sisters had done with the church. At the end of each pew a deep red bow adorned a cluster of white calla lilies, which not only matched my wedding colors but somehow drew the eye up to the stained glass windows above, as if they had been fitted into the church just for this day. Stunning candelabras stood to each side of the altar, their silver stems gleaming and the candles' honey scent reaching all the way here to the anteroom. I bounced on my toes, spotting Adam, who stood at the front with his best man. As the white-robed priest swept his hand toward the back of the church I stepped back and slid my arm through my father's. It was time.

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

Example 1: (Simile)

Like a personal blessing from God, sunlight streamed through the stained glass window, dappling the parishioners below in red and gold.

Example 2: (Metaphor)

Jimmy wiggled on the bench and then gave his collar a tug. This was probably the most boring day of his life. His clothes itched, his shoes squished his toes and the man up front just talked and talked. Mom called him a priest, whatever that was. Jimmy looked at the man's black dress and white collar and wondered why he was wearing his penguin costume when it wasn't even Halloween.

Please note: Each type of faith will have an individual church setting.

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Color Thesaurus Entry: Gray

Real World Comparisons:

Light:

Gray hair
Ashes
Fog
Cobwebs
Brain
Smoke
Slate
Dirty snow
Street ice
Moths
Smog/pollution
Paved steps/pathways

Medium:

Wolves
Cement
Pewter
Metals (mercury, tin, etc)
Lemur
Sharks
Manta rays
Tree bark (Pine, cedar, Spruce)
Stones, rocks, granite
Statues
Headstones
Satellite dishes
Duct tape
Gravel

Dark:

Storm clouds
Streets
Pencil lead
Elephants
Charcoal
Cavities
Old unpainted barns and fences
Driftwood
Rotten wood
Tornadoes
Chain link fence
Barbed Wire

Shades of Gray:

Slate, dove gray, pewter, charcoal, ashy, ashen, iron gray, smoky

Make every detail count

Colors are powerful descriptors, not fillers. Make sure that if you use a comparison or contrast to highlight a color, you choose the right one. Look at the setting and atmosphere you are working to create, then draw from the viewpoint character or narrator's history, education and past experiences to find the right fit.

A poor example:

Marc stood by the gym doors in his basketball uniform, tall and muscular and perfect, his brown hair tousled and curly with sweat. I stared, every particle on my body tingling as I drank in my future boyfriend...until he opened his mouth and I caught a glimpse of teeth the color of dirty snow. Ew. No way would I be with a guy who couldn't be bothered to use a freaking whitening kit.

What's wrong with this example?

It's a little...*yawn*...blah. We need a stronger comparison.

A strong example:

Marc stood by the gym doors in his basketball uniform, tall and muscular and perfect, his brown hair tousled and curly with sweat. I stared, every particle on my body tingling as I drank in my future boyfriend...until he opened his mouth and I caught a glimpse of dingy gray teeth. Ew. Making out with him would be like kissing a mouthful of gravel.

Why is this example better?

Gravel is a much better comparison, because the color doesn't just suggest teeth that are less than pearly-perfect, it also implies our pal Marc needs some dental work. We get a much stronger mental picture.


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Are You Missing?

Hi folks! You may notice if you're a follower that you're missing from the sidebar. I'm very sorry about this--it appears blogger is experiencing some issues with the Following feature.

So, if you are missing, don't worry! You're there, really--just hanging out in this alternative reality where chocolate has no calories, the Muse obeys YOU and Waldo is a zombie looking for his afternoon snack. (Don't worry--it isn't you he's after...it's the wizard.)

If you try to follow and can't, please let me know. And if you see missing followers on other Blogger blogs or your own, I urge you to pass on this link. The more info on this problem, the better!

Setting Thesaurus Entry: Garage Sale

Sight

long, rickety tables covered with kids' toys, stuffed animals, board games, sports equipment, books, coffee mugs, plates, corelle, cookie sheets, baskets, cutlery, vases, bowls, old christmas decorations, knick-knacks, collectibles (spoons, pins, figurines of angels, elephants, dogs, cats, wolves, birds, plates, coca-cola brand items, Elvis, owls, sea shells, etc), dusty silk arrangements, crumbly dried arrangements, cook books, old magazines, potty training seats, boxes of sewing patterns, craft supplies, mirrors, mismatched furniture, scuffed boots and shoes, old clothing hanging up on a portable closet, computer equipment and software, out of date electronics (old phones, answering machines, film cameras, radios, dvd players, non flat screen TVs, printers, massive stereo speakers), old, battered Tupperware, picture frames, hamster cages, fish bowls/aquariums, sheet sets, towels, curtains, pillows, throws, cheesy gag gifts (things that say 'Old Fart', Potty putter sets, singing fish, drinking games, joke books), kids clothing, bins of old hats, purses, gloves, mitts, old cassettes, VCR tapes, DVDs, CDs, tools, tire sets, appliances (blenders, tarnished toasters, big microwaves, bread makers, food processors, coffee machines, deep fryers, food dehydrators, juicers, crock pots), salt and pepper shakers, fishing supplies, travel memorabilia and souvenirs (sombrero hats, colorful art work, clay fish mobiles, maracas,) beer and wine making supplies, large ticket items (washers, dryers, stoves, fridges, freezers, piano, vehicles, boats, vanities, antiques, trailers,) sports equipment (row machine, treadmills, stationary bikes), strange things (hot tub pumps, specialty surveying equipment, roofing tile, rolls of lino or carpet, wedding goblets or wedding specific gifts, compostors, construction materials, etc), a 'free' box, kids manning drink or chip stands, colorful price stickers, signs, balloons taped at the end of the driveway, cash box or owner wearing a fanny pack filled with change

Sounds

talking, haggling, whispering, muttering, doors opening and closing, boxes opening, switches toggling on and off, pages turning in a magazine, radios, laughing, cars driving by, pulling up, stopping, puzzle boxes shaking, the crinkle of bags, the thump of setting down an appliance, kids rooting through the free box, the clink of glasses, metallic shift of cutlery or small tools, people calling out in greeting, people asking questions, small talk & banter, pushy hawking, aggressive bartering, the clink of coins, papery rustle of bills, clinks, clatters, shuffling feet on the garage floor, the sounds of people testing out music boxes, boom boxes, RC cars, musical toys, the air hum of a plugged in microwave, the bang and clash of sorting through pots and pans, the rustling flaps of a cardboard box as it's opened

Smells

dust, oil, grease, musty clothing/towels/bedding, candle wax, potpourri sets, decorative soaps, scented candle sets, coffee, perfume, aftershave, leather, wood, varnish, drywall

Tastes

Kool aid/chips/treats/hot dogs sold by the owner's kids, coffee, bottled water, a metallic tang in the air, dust

Touch

Dusty knick knacks, the weight of a cold, chipped coffee mug in the hand, running fingertips over a soft bedroom comforter or item of clothing, the prickle of Christmas garland against the palm, warm coffee in the mouth and throat, bumping and brushing against other people in the narrow table isles, the papery feel of money, grease on the fingers from handling of tools, sorting through boxes of mixed junk, bending down to sort through a box, pulling out a paperback from a box and rifling the pages, pressing buttons, lifting, opening boxes, digging a wallet out of a back pocket, juggling multiple items as you go to pay, fingering a price tag, turning a book over to read the back coffee, paging through a cookbook, Trying on a pair of shoes or shrugging into a jacket, unzipping a purse or duffel bag, carefully handling figurines and collectibles, the pull of plastic bag handles as you leave with a bag of treasures, hunched shoulders or bending over tables, shuffling along the tables, closing hand over a pocketful of change to count out the correct amount needed, setting down items on the cash out table, holding two similar items in each hand to compare & choose, tugging on the sleeve of a friend to draw their attention to something

Helpful hints:

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

Example 1:

Marion immediately honed in on a large clump of knotted, broken jewelry sitting out on the five dollar table. She knew a bargain when she saw one, and this hodgepodge of chains and tarnished silver would almost surely yield a treasure or two for someone patient enough to unravel the twists and tangles. She handed over the money to bored woman manning the cash box and hurried to her car. Last year she's found a similar find at a yard same and ended up with a dainty pair of pearl studs and a ten karat gold wedding band.

Example 2:

I lift the lid of the washing machine and twist the agitator to make sure it actually turns. Next to me, the owner explains it's barely two years old and that she's only selling it because her sister moved a week ago and gave her a front loading one. Other than a big scratch in the paint on one side, the unit appears in great shape. I frown and let out a heavy sigh, like I'm really weighing the fifty dollar price tag. Finally I give a slow nod. "Take forty for it?" I ask.

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

Example 1: (Simile)

On the last table, a colorful collection of stained coffee mugs huddle around a broken coffee machine like mourners at a funeral.

Example 2: (Metaphor)

As I step into the dim garage, I shake my head in disbelief. Bald tires, threadbare towels, a refrigerator held together with duct tape...is this a garage sale, or did I take a wrong turn somewhere and end up at the town dump?

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The Things I Do For You People

Well, it's Saturday, and time for the next Setting Thesaurus Entry. I was planning on doing Churches, but then I find out the neighborhood is having a garage sale. And dang it if I don't have a whole pile of crap to get rid of didn't think that having a garage sale would be a great way to research a GARAGE SALE SETTING for my Musers.

See how I sacrifice? The lengths I go to bring you accurate content? I am willing to brave the seedy underbelly of Garage Sales. For you. That is how much I CARE.

So *cough* in order for me to delve into this dark world of wheeling and dealing over chipped coffee mugs and broken toasters, I'll be a bit late on posting the Garage Sale Setting. I'll take notes, I promise, and tomorrow will be the mother lode of garage sale sights, sounds, smells tastes and touches...if make it back alive. Folks take garage sales pretty seriously in my neck of the woods.

(Uh...I won't go to hell for bumping churches a week, will I?)
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Shape Thesaurus Entry: Crescent

Natural:

Arched back
Banana
Waxing/waning moon
Fingernail
Bull horns
Bay shoreline
Partial eclipse
Moustache
orange/apple slice
Pea Pod
Green/yellow beans
Shark tail
Melon slice
Smile
Cupped palm
Rainbow

Man-made:

Cul-de-sac
Wind-filled sails
Fortune cookies
Perogies
Croissant
Wrench
Sickle
Shepherd's crook
Turnover
Flags: Turkey, Algeria, Pakistan, Malaysia

Synonyms: sickle, rounded, lunate, curve

Describing a shape is best done in as few words as possible. Think of the shape as a camera snap shot--you want to capture the gist of what you mean as soon as possible so you can get on with other related (and more important) detail, and the action happening in the scene

A weak example:

The waning moon floated in the night sky like one of Aunt Helga's bloated perogies in a cast iron pot.

What's wrong with this example?

Oh boy. This is a CLASSIC bad comparison. Unless you're going for laughs, of course. Bad laughs. Plus, bloated and floated? Yikes.

A strong example:

The waxing moon hung in the night sky like the top of a shepherd's crook, keeping watch over the world.

Why does this work?

Not only is it apt, it's also symbolic and leaves the reader with a peaceful, safe feeling.

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A Public Service Announcement

Imagine--there you are, just burning through those revisions. In fact by golly, you think maybe you're pretty darn close to letting your MS leave the nest. You're feeling pleased with yourself for sticking through the editing process, especially those days when plucking out nose hairs with tweezers or washing your hair with toxic waste seemed more appealing than taking A-N-O-T-H-E-R pass at your book.

After a good 8 hours of Z's, it's time to get back in the saddle. You turn on the power bar and your screen resembles a horror movie TV right before the creepy evil thing crawls out of it. Then your hard drive makes a pathetic whimpering noise like its own dictating its suicide note.

The screen shifts...it's the Blue Screen of Death.

Sweat pops out of every pore. No, you think. It can't be. Hard drive crashes are some twisted urban myth created to scare the crap out of writers, right?

You talk to the computer in encouraging tones as you attempt resuscitation, which eventually dissolves into full on begging. Because guess what? You've been kinda lazy and haven't backed up for two months.

Yeah, that's right--all those revisions? Pouff!

Sounds like a nightmare, doesn't it? Well it happened. To me. This weekend. So my public service announcement? GO BACK UP YOUR HARD DRIVE. NOW.

I lucked out in the fact that hubby is a savvy teckie guy, and he was able to grab my stuff from the harddrive. But it could have just as easily turned out differently.

If you don't have an external hard drive, here's a few options:

Thumb drive. Inexpensive, portable & fast.

Google account--email your documents, huge storage. Google is God, and hopefully will be as safe as a bank vault.

Mozy will provide an automatic back up.

Drop Box Back up and syncs files across several computers.

Unfortunately with our extreme dependenc on technology, it's not a matter of if a crash will happen, but when.

/Public service announcement

Setting Description Template: Pirate Ship

Sight

Mast, sails, barrels of salted fish, fruit, flour and water, coils of rope, rigging, rope pegs, foredeck, main deck, aft deck, hull, bilges, compass, pirate flag, gun port, cannons, gunpowder, gunwales, stairs, muskets, swords, cutlass, pirates, knives, anchor, ballast, helm, crow's nest, tiller, grapple hooks, rudder, chain, spar, decorative carving under the bow, buckets, brushes, rags, name carved/burned into the ship's side, spare tinder, sacks of salt, onions, potatoes, hammocks, chests, maps, scrolls, candles, lanterns, rum, deck, rats, weevils, maggots, sea gulls, barnacles, plank, cabin, crew's quarters, kitchen, pirates climbing the rigging, tying the rope, running sails, watching the clouds and horizon

Sounds

Sails flapping and rustling, mast creaking, bare feet thumping against the deck, the shudder of the anchor, grunts, groans, the first mate relaying orders, the captain growling/yelling/shouting, salty spray hitting the deck, the caw of seagulls, the slap of the waves, the snap and flutter of the pirate flag, drunken singing, dancing, arguing, fighting, the thump as the door to below deck is thrown back, cannons being shot, war cries, fizzles of lit fuses, the slosh of rum in a jug or bottle, wood splintering in battle, cries of pain, the boom of a cannon, the creak of a rope tightening, the snap of a rope breaking

Smells

Body odor, salt, brine, rotten mean/fish, seaweed, bad breath, sour puke smell on pirates, rum, fish cooking, bread baking, yeast, blood, sun-warmed planks, wine, smoke, gunpowder, hot metal, pipe smoke

Tastes

Rum, wine, water, salty meat, wizened apples or rotting fruits, hardtack, spit, fish, bread, biscuits, gruel, soup, tea, pipe tobacco

Touch

Rope burns, sun burn, heat stroke, cracked knuckles, chapped skin and lips, broken, bleeding lips, hard planks underfoot, crouching on knees, muscles pulling tight in the arms and shoulder as you adjust the rigging r run up the sail, swiping sweat from the face or back of the neck, the heat of the captain's lash as punishment, sleeping on rough planks in the open air, fingers rubbed raw from scrubbing, cold sludge pooling around ankles as you stand in the bilge waters, salty sea spray in the face, slivers, painful gums from scurvy, hoisting oneself up into the rigging, a hand to the brow to shade one's sight from the sun, the crippling hot pain of a gunshot or blade cut, the burning touch of a hot iron to seal a wound shut, gripping onto the gunwale, bundling up the canvas sails, scraping a wooden spoon through a bowl to get the last bit of gruel, tipping head back to catch the last drop of run, /pushing/shoving/fighting/wrestling/grappling with other pirates, cranking the helm (tiller), tying down a sail, securing a line on a peg, the sway of the ship underfoot, sea sickness--bending over the ship's side, pain in gut, skin and muscle ripping from bone during a keelhaul punishment, hauling fish out of the water, throwing grapples at another ship and pulling, the recoil of a musket tearing at shoulder, stomach pain from food poisoning, water cramping

Helpful hints:


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

Example 1:

The sun overhead set the lash marks on Gim's back afire as he scrubbed the stairwell clean. His muscles trembled with each stroke of the brush, a tender reminder, the first mate explained, for Gim to use his arms to work, not to snatch a cuddle with the captain's saucy daughter.

Example 2:

The men watched the eerie, rolling mass of black clouds reaching from the south and prayed for the wind to pick up. Trapped in a dead calm, the ship's sails hung as limp and useless as patched socks hanging from a clothesline.

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

Example 1: (Simile)

The Captain's leathery, salt-worn face was as rough as the barnacles crusting the hull of his ship.

Example 2: (Metaphor)

Rain pelted the men aboard the Black Runner, an angry lashing of tears from an unforgiving sea mistress.

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Texture Thesaurus: Powdery

Natural:

Pollen
Dust
Dirt
Mildew
Butterfly/moth wings
Ashes
Ground spices
Soot
Dry rot
Volcanic ash


Man-made:

Chalk
Cocoa powder
Flour
Baking soda/powder
Cement mix
Icing sugar
Make up foundation
Baby powder
Talc powder
Blush
Drink powder (Kool aid, crystal light, protein powder etc)
Jelly-filled powder donuts
Gunpowder
Cosmetics
Dried soap scum
Cake bottoms
Laundry powder
Dry plaster
Uncoated pills
Drugs (cocaine, meth)
Cake mixes
Coating on a fresh stick of gum
Marshmallow coating

Synonyms:

Chalky, dusty, filmy, pulverous, pulverulent


Describing texture in a story creates intimacy between reader and character, and can even cause an emotional trigger for both. To anchor the reader in the scene, make sure comparisons and contrasts are clear and relatable, and within the scope of the narrator's life knowledge and experience.

A weak example:

With her back to the wind, Anna knelt in the field and ran her hands through the soil drifting between the limp stalks of corn. Powder dusted her hand like the leftovers of a sugar donut.Closing her eyes, she lifted her face to the sun and prayed that the rains would come, that Pa's crop would be saved.

What's wrong with this example?

A donut dusted in icing sugar is a positive, and likely brings out good feeling in the reader. This is at direct odds with what the dusty soil actually signifies--possible hardship for Anna's family.


A strong example:

With her back to the wind, Anna knelt in the field and ran her hands through the soil drifting between the limp stalks of corn. The ground had as much moisture as the chalky brushes old Ms. Stitch made her clap together every day after school. Closing her eyes, she lifted her face to the sun and prayed that the rains would come, that Pa's crop would be saved.  

Why does this example work?

The dry ground texture is tied to an unpleasant chore--cleaning erasers, which sets it up as an emotional negative. 



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Setting Thesaurus entry: Night club

Sight

Strobe lights, colored lights, speakers, a stage, bars with bar stools, small round tables with stools, washrooms, waitresses dressed skimpily with glowing trays of drinks or shooters or empty bottles/glasses, shots lined up at the bar, bartenders, bottles of booze lined up behind the bar, lemon and lime wedges, multi colored straws, empty beer cans, sprayers, beer taps, shot glasses, layered drinks, martini glasses, coffee mugs, spilled drinks on the floor, a line up at the bathroom, cougars (older women dressed like they're 20), dancers on the dance floor or on speakers, big beefy bouncers checking ID and clearing riff-raff, girl stamping hands with club logo, line up to get inside, people lingering/smoking outside, cabs, VLT machines, cigarette machines, bathroom condom machines, theme decor (Country, Rock and Roll, Hollywood, Heavy Metal, etc), waitresses being hassled by drunk guys, cash being swapped for drinks, Bank machine, credit cards, pool tables in the back, neon lights, dance poles on stage, DJ booth, groups of guys standing close together, groups of girls yelling in each others ears or pointing at a good looking guy, people making out not caring who's watching, people taking pictures with their cel phones, drunk people (staggering, slurring words, bumping into others)

Sounds

Loud music, people screaming in your ear to talk to you, laughter, come-ons, hooting, yelling, swearing, glass breaking, whistling, DJ announcements coming over the loud speaker, mugs clunking against a table, the hiss of pop filling a glass at the bar

Smells

Sweat, beer breath, cologne, perfume, hairspray and hair products, body spray, stale air, vomit, smoke or pot wafting off of clothing, fruity, sweet drinks and coolers, body odor, hot electrical machines (speakers, sound system, lights)

Tastes

Beer, coolers, martinis, jack and coke, gin and tonic, cosmos, mojitos, coffee, water, shooters (dirty hookers, sex on the beach, bottlecaps, Dr Pepper, China white, snakebite, B52, jägerbomb, Irish Car bomb, sambuca, etc), Red Bull, pop, fruit mixes, spritzes, lemon slices, salt, lime slices, whipped cream, gum, mints, candy necklaces

Touch

Beer or other cold drink on a parched throat, licking sweetness from lips, crunching up ice cubes, touching people to get their attention, pushing hair back away from ear and off the face, touching clothing, straightening shirts, skirts, etc, applying lipstick or gloss, checking for make up smudging, fanning self, rubbing, bumping, nudging against dance partner, accidentally having a foot stepped on in a crowd, pressing against or past others, using a hip to open the door because you don't want to touch the handle to a washroom, cold glass against fingertips, playing with can tabs, napkins or drink coaster on a small table, texting friends, constantly touching hair to make sure it's in place, shaking hair back, adjusting cleavage, the papery feel of money, handing it over to a barmaid, adjusting jewelry, leaning closer to people to talk or flirt, putting a hand on the small of the back, steering someone to the dance floor, taking someone by the hand and pulling them to where you want them to go, using hand and body language to communicate (pointing, waving over, light, flirty touches, nods), warm breath against the neck as someone speaks directly into your ear


Helpful hints:


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

Example 1:

Overhead, strobe lights worked the crowd dancing to Creed, turning their smooth, practiced movements into a thrashing collection of jerks and bumps. I surveyed from the outer edge, trying to spot Tom or Derrek, but the pulsating music blaring from the speakers was giving me a headache and the red exit sign to the left was like a beacon of sanity. I tugged on Allie's arm to get her attention, then pointed at the door out. "I'm going for a smoke," I screamed at her. She gave me a vacant nod, the one that you gave to someone when you can't actually hear them. I shook my head and took off, rather than try again--what was the point?.


Example 2:

I took a sip of my beer and swayed to the beat, a little drunk and grinning because I knew it. The air was hot and so were the guys, just how I liked it. Here I didn't need to talk or tell jokes and be charming; everything that needed to be said could be done with a look. His name, my name and then we were off on the floor, dancing tight against each other, the music and filtered lights turning our awkward bodies into fluid rhythm. 

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

Example 1: (Simile)

"Wha? I'm not drunk!" Amanda said, jerking back. Her cosmo slopped over the edge of her glass like a wave slamming against shore. "Wha are you, my freaking muther?"

Example 2: (Metaphor)

The guest band's thrashing sound was billed as one-of-a-kind and didn't disappoint. Too bad the closest thing I could compare it too was the night I heard a high velocity car crash on the street in front of my house.

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Color Thesaurus Entry: White

Real World Comparisons:
Clouds
Milk
Cottage Cheese
Sour Cream
Egg whites
Whipped cream
Coffee creamer
Pearl
Snow
Frost
Bone
Rice
Daisy
Swan
Cabbage moth
Maggots
Dandelion fluff
Cotton
Teeth
Toilet Paper
Elephant tusks
Bar of soap
Dove
Magnolias
Whitecaps, sea foam
Aspirin
Salt
Sugar
Marshmallows
Polar Bears
White out
Computer paper
White boards
Coconut
Packing popcorn
Cauliflower
Ghosts
Golf balls, baseballs, volleyballs, ping pong balls
Styrofoam
Wedding dress/veil
Hand/face cream
Vanilla Ice cream
Vanilla frosting
Chiclets gum

Shades of white: Ivory, milky, snowy, alabaster, lily-white, frosty, pearly, bone

Make every detail count

Colors are powerful descriptors, not fillers. Make sure that if you use a comparison or contrast to highlight a color, you choose the right one. Look at the setting and atmosphere you are working to create, then draw from the viewpoint character or narrator's history, education and past experiences to find the right fit.

A poor example:

After the light snowfall, our yard was a sheet of white, like clouds had fallen from the sky and blanketed the lawn.

What's wrong with this example?

At first this might appear as strong description, but the the more you think about the density and appearance of clouds, the more the image starts to resemble mist or fog than a thin crust of snow. Think carefully of not only the color, but the consistency of what your comparing to ensure a strong fit on all levels.

A strong example:

After the light snowfall, our yard was a sheet of white, like a tablecloth of freshly woven cotton waiting to receive the evening bounty.

Why is this example better?

This one conveys both a clean, fresh appearance and matches the thin coating implied by 'light snowfall'.


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