Setting Thesaurus Entry: House Party


Crowded hallways, people sitting on the stairs, beer cans/bottles left on tables, blasting stereo, haze from cigarettes/pot, decorative lighting, cheesy decorations, line ups for the bathrooms, people crowding onto couches, chairs, dancing, groups standing around the pool table or Foosball table, bowls of chips, pretzels, popcorn strewn about, steady traffic to the fridge in the kitchen and/or beer fridge in the garage, ice chests, chips/popcorn mashed on the carpet, spilled drinks, people sitting on the kitchen counters, boxes of pizza on the counter, paper plates, girls whispering in corners to check guys out or snark over a rival, spilled beer/pop, empty bottles of liquor on cabinets, speakers, end tables, kitchen island, stairs, coats piling up in bedrooms or on a easy chair, red plastic beer cups, keg, punch bowl of booze mix, dishes piled up in sink, piles of paper plates, garbage overflowing, jello shooters, shot glasses, puke on the lawn, people smoking on the back deck/backyard, broken figurines/picture frames/etc from being knocked over, locked bedrooms, cigarette butts flicked on the lawn or snuffed out in a flower bed, people making out (in corners, on couches, on the lawn, laundry room), people passed out (and possibly dressed up or decorated with felt pen/make up), people stumbling, hugging and singing, cars parked up and down the street, people sitting on the front step, hanging out in doorways, beer tops scattered on the sidewalk, pizza being delivered, floor, counters, tables, fights in the front yard/back yard, flashing lights from police cars, people rushing to leave


Loud music, laughing, yelling, shouting, crying, screaming, arguing, glass breaking, smoke alarm going off, doors opening closing, beer bottles on the fridge door clinking together every time it's opened/shut, glasses thumping onto the table, drunken whooping, the click of pool balls hitting each other and shuttering into pockets, cries of indignation of shoves, bumps and spilled drinks, people pounding on bathroom doors, the crunch of chips, slurping on beers and drinks, cel phones going off, people calling out for more beer, people running up and down steps, creaky spots in the floor, TV blasting a hockey game, bowls of chips over tuning, things being knocked over, smashed, horns honking outside, neighbors pounding on the door, police sirens, drunks singing, hooting, swearing etc


Spilled beer, hair products, perfume, aftershave, alcohol, spicy chips, fresh microwaved popcorn, pizza, pot, cigarette smoke, vomit, sweat, beer breath


Alcohol, pop, water, cigarettes, pot, gum, mints, chips, popcorn, pretzels, pizza, beer, coolers


Sticky counters, crunchy chips under foot, the poke of stepping on a beer cap against the heel, bumping, pushing, shoving, shoulder sliding together as you pass someone on the stair or tight hallway, feeling an anonymous pinch or grope in a crowded room, hugging drunk people, brushing up against others as you dance in a crowded space, a cool beer cup against the palm, cold beer against the lips, the sudden jolting cold splash of having beer spilled down the front of your shirt or back, stepping in a spill, leaning against the wall, sitting on the edge of a chair, stool or armrest of a couch, finger digging in a chip bowl, rooting around in a fridge for a beer, clinking shot glasses with someone and tossing them back, playing with or straightening hair, tugging at shirt neckline, smoothing down clothing, the feel of chunky bracelets sliding up and down the arm as you dance, a pool cue sliding along fingers, fending off drunks, kissing, holding hands, cool grass on bare feet in the back yard, hot air against the skin, clothes sticking to skin, the rub of painful, stylish shoes, dragging on a cigarette, passing a joint, lighting a cig for someone, splashing hands and face with water in an effort to sober up, dripping visine in the eyes to clear redness before going home, spraying self in body spray to hide the smell of pot, yanking open the bathroom door, hard lino or tile floor jamming against knees as you drop before the toilet, rattling a doorknob, repeatedly sliding arms into a jacket while drunk, trying to find the armholes, falling on the ground outside, falling into other people in fits of the giggles, raiding the fridge/going through cupboards to satisfy the munchies, tipping back a beer bottle to the lips

Helpful hints:

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

Example 1:

I staggered down the hallway, bumping into people and mumbling apologies until I reached the bathroom. I squinted, but it didn't help my focus. No matter how hard I tried, there were three doorknobs on the bathroom door. "I'll take number two, Alex," I slurred, honing in on the middle one.

Example 2:

Greg's wide shoulders came in handy on the packed stairway, and Jenn followed closely in his wake before the gap around him closed. The air was tight and hot, flavored with the skunky odor of pot. Music throbbed in Jenn's ears and shook the walls and the second she entered the basement she began swaying to the beat. Thank God she blew off her study session with Allison. This was the party of the year!

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

Example 1: (Simile)

In the middle of the crowded kitchen, a beer keg sat on the island like a great stone idol surrounded by worshippers.

Example 2: (Metaphor)

Out on the back deck, the joint passed from hand to hand, a single demonic eye moving through the shadows.

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Bish Denham said...

Wow, great post! I was like, you know, there!

Shannon O'Donnell said...

I think it's been too long since I last told you that you're BRILLIANT! If you could only keep one blog as a writing resource, it would be yours. :-)

K.Hinny said...

Thanks for the post! It was great!!

Kirsten Lesko said...

Mmmm - this party smells great! Brings me back to the good old days. LOL.

Karen Lange said...

Wow, this brings some interesting images...Thanks, as always, for sharing.
Happy weekend,

Jennifer Major said...

really helpful!! Thanks

Jenna Reynolds said...

I'm revising a party scene so thanks a lot for this!

Matthew Rush said...

Not much specific to say about this as your post is awesome at a level equal to all your other posts - as usual.

I do love the simile about the party goers worshiping the keg. I can remember feeling that way a little bit in high school; thinking that beer and liquid courage were the only way I could talk to girls.

Theresa Milstein said...

I'm glad I found your blog. Writers need to get inside their characters' heads to experience all that they're experiencing. If we don't get and incorporate these kinds of details, our stories will be one-dimensional.

Lindsey Edwards said...

I love this! I actually do this for myself, so cool to know others do the same and I'm not alone!

Sherry Soule said...

This so helpful! I can't wait for you guys to create a "setting Thesaurus" book!

If you have a minute, check out my books!


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