Setting Description Entry: Dragon's Lair


Dragon, a massive wide cavern, high ceiling, smooth walls from the dragon body scraping the sides, coins, jewels, precious metals, weaponry and other riches scattered on the floor and piled up in adjoining chambers, heat vents, fissures, stalactites and stalagmites, nesting area made from branches, fresh leaves, melted gold coins to form a bowl to keep the eggs (clutch) warm during absences, bones, skeletons, skulls, spoiled meat, ragged clothing from past dead adventurers, hoarded items of a magical nature (scepters, crowns, tiaras, rings, amulets, staffs, potions, gemstones, cursed artifacts, robes, knives, chalices, etc), old discarded dragon scales on the floor, egg shells, crumbles of rock, boulders, debris, scorch marks on the walls and floor, cracks in the wall or high ceiling, weaponry and smashed, splintered shield the dead left behind, fire, smoke, cliff ledge


The crash of water and waves (if located on a cliff face on the ocean's edge), powerful inhaling and exhaling that reverberates throughout the chamber, the scuff of a foot, the drag of a tail, knocking over a stalagmite with a crash, a metallic slide of metals and coins from sorting through treasure piles, a rumbling snoring sound, the crackle of branches as something large settles on the nest, scraping noises as the dragon rubs its side against the wall for itchy relief, the flutter and flap of wings settling and adjusting, angry bellows, the roar and crackle of fire, noises and shifting echoing throughout the cavern, soft footsteps in the dust, sneaking toward the treasure hold, the crack of eggs breaking, the squawk and cry of new draglets


Fire, blood, metal, char, brimstone, the sea, salt, hot stone, musty air, rotten food breath, death


Sour tang of fear, sweat, dry mouth...don't think you want to stop here for a picnic


Rough handhold climbing up to the lair entrance, stone digging into knees, cutting hands, scraping legs and arms, inside: taking careful steps, picking your way across a floor littered with bones, rock and riches, careful not to disturb anything, pausing to wipe away droplets of sweat, chest tight from forced light inhales and exhales, pain in the ankles and legs from holding a stiff position at the slightest sound, reaching for a jewel or sword, wincing and gritting teeth as you attempt to pull it soundlessly toward you, dropping small baubles and coins in pockets, constantly glancing up and this way and that as you collect for fear of the dragon awakening or returning, drawing a weapon free from a scabbard to do battle, the drag of armour and a shield pulling at arms and shoulders, heartbeat straining, panicked running at being discovered, The pain of skin burning, hair sizzling, crushing pain of a talon or tooth piercing chest, a wing bashing into you, throwing you against the wall, or giant foot crushing air from lungs, the final exhale of death

Helpful hints:

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

Example 1:

With each exhale, Ceron's face burned and came close to blistering, but he gritted his teeth and stayed focused on the key resting just beyond the sleeping dragon's blood-splattered claw. Two more steps and he would be able to free his son, shackled in the antechamber by the giant beast for daring to wander too close to its lair.

Example 2:

Harland stood outside the cave mouth, refusing to go in. Something terrible was inside, for not only did a chilling rumble sweep down the passage toward him in a steady beat, it carried upon it a stench that made him wonder if the mountain had swallowed a demon and it lay decomposing within its stomach.

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

Example 1: (Simile)

Rubies and emeralds dotted the pile of coins like sweet currants decorating a cake.

Example 2: (Metaphor)

I glanced back at mouth of the cave and the unblemished blue sky beyond. The realization that this would be the last time I drank in such a sight was a heavy shield to carry, yet at least the burden was mine alone.


Stina Lindenblatt said...

Love it, Angela. Visit dragon lairs often, do you? :D

Diane said...

Great examples! Very talented you are... :O)

Heather said...

As a fantasy writer I've got to say, I LOVE this one! Not to mention, your examples are the bomb! They put me right into the story and breathed life to it.

E. Arroyo said...

I agree. As a fantasy writer it always helps to think of new ways to engage the reader with the familiar. Thanks!

Shannon O'Donnell said...

Oh, this is a fun one, Angela! I love it!! :-)

Shannon said...

Very, very cool... I particularly liked your metaphor about the cake. Made me hungry, though ... and I don't have any cake in the cupboards ... and it's night time so the shops are closed ... and I'm not nearly so motivated as to Quest to the Mighty All-Night One-Stop Shop in my fabled search for the one cake to rule them all...

Far too many ellipsis in that statement. I think I'll need to go on an ellipsis diet.

Angela Ackerman said...

Haha, Stina. Only when I have to :)

Diane, Heather, E.Arroyo & Shannon, thnaks! I figured the fantasy settings were not getting as much attention as they deserved and decided to do a fun one. :)

Shannon, cake is like one of the most magnificent things there is. Where would we be without cake?

Have a great week everyone!

SugarScribes said...

Another good one; I check in everyday to see what your new one will be. You are amazing and like I told you in my post in answer to your challenge; your emotional thesaurus is what finally enabled me to polish off my final draft.

I would love for you to do a setting description for " Court house" "Courtroom" I write legal/thrillers and could really use your insight. I have already used your setting description of a prison cell. Keep 'em coming. You actually are my "can't live without blog, but I couldn't say that in the challenge post.


Christina Farley said...

So cool! Now I need to go write a book with a dragon's lair just to use these descriptions. :-)

April said...

I'm not a fantasy writer or reader, but I loved this! I was right there, feeling the heat and the danger.

Paul C said...

You have provided an excellent template for writers in high school to begin thinking about the rich dynamics of writing. It would be interesting to see what they come up with in groups. And then they could compare with your perspective. Well done.

Angela Ackerman said...

Sugarscribes, I'mm write the post if you check it for :)

Christina and April, glad you liked this one!

Paul, I know my Emotion Thesaurus has been used in the classroom and it is amazing what kids come up with. :)

Thanks for all the comments, everyone!

Jaleh D said...

Hooray for dragons! This was very cool.

SugarScribes said...

It's a deal. I am looking forward to reading it, just email me when it's ready and thank you.


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