Setting Thesaurus Entry: Elevator


Metal doors, metal or faux panelled walls, sticky surfaces, smudges, fingerprints, gum wrappers, dirt, pea gravel on the floor, poster ads behind glass, a sanitizer dispenser, operation panel, buttons for the floors, opening and closing the door, a slot for a key, a bright red emergency button, florescent lighting, a handrail, a video camera, speakers in the roof or panel, an emergency intercom button, a false grate or metal slot roof, an emergency escape panel, names, initials, limericks, statements written in ink or scratched into the wall, paper shoved through the ceiling grate, rubber seal around the door, gap between floor and elevator, an eclectic mix of passengers, a digital read of the floor, people checking watches or cell phones for the time, people staring at the digital read and moving toward the front as it gets close to their floor


Metal rubbing against metal, squeals, squeaks, hydraulics pressing the doors shut, the crackle of the intercom, music from speakers, breaks squeezing the wires, the car shuddering and jerking as it slows, a metallic hum, people coughing, rustling clothing and jackets, people asking for a floor number button to be pressed, small talk, a bing as the floor is reached, people saying 'Excuse me' or apologising as people move to the side or make room


Wet & dirty mat or floor, too many perfumes/aftershaves/hair products mingling, dirty diaper smells from babies in strollers, cough drops, bad breath, hand sanitizer, body odors, cleaning products (if you're lucky), smokers who smell like stale cigarettes, take out food being delivered to a particular floor


Gum, candies, cough drops, pop, juice or water brought into the elevator (but really, I wouldn't recommend eating or drinking on the elevator!)


Pressing/jabbing a plastic button, shuffling to the walls to make room, holding breath or trying to make oneself small in a crowded elevator, clutching the metal handrail, trying to not touch the grimy walls, clasping hands in front of self, waiting, head craned up to watch the floor number display, smiling or nodding a hello to a fellow passenger you make eye contact with, bumping against the walls, rubbing shoulders with other passengers, being hyper aware of the distance between you and someone behind you, feeling someones breath on your neck from behind, holding your breath at a foul smell (pressure in chest), reaching out to halt a closing door, volunteering to help someone encumbered get in or out (strollers, elderly in wheelchairs, etc)by lifting/pushing/pulling

Helpful hints:

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

Example 1:

'Stand by Your Man' drifted from the elevator speaker as I jabbed the button to take me to the lobby. Hell would freeze over before I set foot inside the Aritzia Suites again--the nerve of Donnie, promising he was done with the womanizing! I glared at my smudged reflection in the metal doors as the singer's loving twang stabbed at my eardrums. If the elevator didn't open in the next five seconds I'd rip that damn speaker right out the roof.

Example 2:

Emma clutched at the sticky metal handrail as the elevator lurched to a stop. The door opened and a smiling woman pushing a stroller came on. As the elevator continued toward the lobby, Emma shook her head at how the woman could coo and laugh with her baby, so at ease at being placed in a filthy, airless box that probably relied on a drunk repairman to function. Didn't she see this for the death trap it was?

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

Example 1: (Simile)

The doors screeched as they opened at the third floor, and as an elderly man started through, began to jerk shut like a the metal jaws of a monster attempting to procure a leg or two for its midday meal.

Example 2: (Metaphor)

I rushed onto the empty elevator, gagged at the smell and hopped out again before the doors could shut. Five sets of stairs were preferable to a elevator that rivalled a truck stop washroom.

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Jonathon Arntson said...

You're tubular!

Shannon O'Donnell said...

An elevator rivaling a truck stop washroom is enough to trigger my gag reflex right here at the computer - I guess that means it's effective imagery! hahaha. :-)

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

You give new meaning to observing your surroundings. Thank you for this helpful feature.

Susan :)

veach st. glines said...

In a comment on Resident Alien, you asked about this map widget:

Hope this is what you invoked the love of zombies for.

Kristi Faith said...

Wonderful post, so true that many authors leave out such wonderful details!

I left an answer to your question on Critter Corner also-wanted to let you know in case you didn't get it in an email. :)


Bish Denham said...

Not a big fan of elevators, but not phobic. A ride to the top of the Empire State Building and back down...that was an experience!

Angela said...

Thanks Jon--back atcha!

Shannon, I guess I should think these things through before choosing a comparison, huh?

Susan, thanks so much!

veach, thank you so much! I appreciate you passing this on!

Kristi, thanks--I stopped by and got your email, too!

Angela said...

Bish, I've never taken that elevator--I can only imagine!

I don't mind elevators as long as the doors don't try to eat people or they don't shudder and jerk and sqeaul, making one wonder if it's in its death throws....

Kelly said...

I can't see the word elevator without humming "Love in an Elevator by Aerosmith"...


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