Setting Thesaurus Entry: Herbalist Shop (Fantasy)

Sight

Dried bunches of flowers/herbs hanging from the roof, mortar/pestle, cheesecloth, knife and cutting board, butcher's block table, water barrel, shelves with glass jars filled with seeds/ground roots/ground metals/oils/pods/bark/fungi/honeycomb/etc, bubbling pot over the fire, stone fireplace, firewood bin, wood stack outside, high rafters, cloak hooks, spoons, tongs, rags, buckets, baskets, pouches, labelled jars, creams, strainers, liquids, powders, poultices, bins to hold larger roots, leaves drying on cloth at the window, labelled medicinal tea blends, books, recipe ledger, inventory ledger, stool, a woman wearing an apron, her sleeves rolled as she crushes and blends ingredients, colorful flower petals and leaves, fresh herbs in pots (sage, basil, rosemary, thyme), garlic braid hanging from the wall, a broom, a counter for meeting with customers, small adjoining gated garden with Lavender, Fever few, Heather, Foxglove, Marigold, Mint, dandelions, etc) trees in the yard or nearby forest (Willow, Pine, Alder, Oak, Rowan, Hawthorne), sign above the door depicting herbs or a mortar/pestle

Sounds

Scissors snipping, the papery rasp of herbs in the mortar and pestle, the tearing of bark being peeled from a limb, bubbling pots on the stove, a dry leafy rustle as a breeze bumps bunches of herbs and flowers drying from the rafters, steam hissing, remedies spilling over the pot and sizzling against the hot embers, the scratch of a bristle-broom against a dirt or wood floor, the scrape of a stool, the flip of the page as the herbalist searches for a recipe, the dry crackle of crushing a dry seed pod or leaf between fingers, the dry brush of the hands to dislodge herb fragments, scraping of a spoon in a bowl, tapping a spoon against the side of a pot, water dripping as potions are strained, water pouring into a mug, the whistle of a water kettle, a knock at the door, voices calling out, the murmur of a consultation, the crushing snap of dried plants being broken down, the chop of a knife, the patter of dried plant bits dropping into a put or bowl

Smells

Herbs (sage, thyme, basil, rosemary), mint, licorice root, musty roots and barks, sweet/fragrant flowers (lavender, heather) a moldy dark odor of fungus, sweat, dirt, woodsmoke, the gamy smell of illness and infection (if a patient is present)

Tastes

Bitter teas, tinctures and tonics, water, mint leaves to settle stomach upsets, lemon, flower petals, lavender

Touch

Crushing dried herbs in the palm, sorting through bunches of flowers to select an ingredient, peeling bark, the silky feel of flower petals, wiping hands with apron or cloth, rubbing a hand against a sweaty forehead, back strain from attending a remedy simmering on the fire, stirring and monitoring its color and scent, the patterned strokes of sweeping, opening the door to receive a customer, holding sachets of herbs to the nose to check for potency, the rolling twist of the wrist to grind medicines with a pestle, Stringing new flower bunches up to dry, bending to collect new ingredients from the garden, tying cloth bundles and packages, packing baskets for customers, lifting a heavy cast iron pot or kettle from the stove, stoking the fire, starting a fire with grass and broken down wood chips, applying a poultice to a wound with gentle hands, binding bandages

Helpful hints:


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

Example 1:

I swept the straw bristles across the dusty floor, scraping purple petal bits and birch bark curls into a pile. Scents, pungent and sweet, tingled my nose and brought a secret smile to my lips. Mama thought sending me to help Nan was a punishment, but I loved coming here. Surrounded by bundles of craggy roots, leaves and strange plants, grey-haired Nan would grind and peel and crush, talking all the while about what each seed, leaf or petal could be used for.

Example 2:

Rhoda spread the foul-smelling poultice over the burn on the young man's arm, not bothering to be gentle about it. His buddies assured her that the chair he'd sat on gave way, spilling him into the hearth at home but by the fumes of liquor wafting off them, Rhoda had her doubts. The pounding at her door in the middle of the night had not put her in a generous mood either, so she'd left out the ochre root which would have helped numb the pain. Maybe her omission would cure the man's stupidity for the next time, saving her some valuable hours of sleep.

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

Example 1: (Simile)

Hanging over the hot coals, the blackened lid jittered against the boiling pot like chattering teeth.

Example 2: (Metaphor)

The old woman in the rain-filled doorway did not speak, only stared down at the floor, her stick-like arms dangling at her sides. From the state of her filthy clothes she could not afford a remedy, but clearly desperation had brought her here. A yoke of pain pressed on her shoulders, nearly bending her in two. I dropped the bundle of heather and hurried over, and then led her to a stool close to the fire.

18 comments:

Robyn Campbell said...

Angela, I love example #1 on using a simile. I could see the pot on the stove. :)

This herbalist shop entry is amazing. Bookmarked? CHECK! :)

Thanks girl.

Shannon O'Donnell said...

Oh, my students will absolutely love this one. I've bookmarked it for next week! Yay. :-)

Karen Lange said...

Love this. Reminds me of the Apothecary Shop in Williamsburg, VA.
Have a great weekend,
Karen

Jeff King said...

Nice work... keep them coming.

Marcia said...

What a resource this blog is, Angela. The lists alone create the setting, never mind using the items in a story. :)

Holly Ruggiero, Southpaw said...

Oooo, I like this one a lot.

Mary Witzl said...

I like this one too, Angela -- you've pretty much described my kitchen!

The book I'm trying to sell features a herbalist. I wish I'd had come here before I wrote it, but I can always come back to this post when I'm doing revisions.

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

mmmmmmm, I feel like taking in a deep breath, reveling in those scents. This is a place I'd like to hang out. Beautiful job, Angela.

Voyagefan said...

Oh. My. Gosh. I love you for this! I love writing fantasy stories, and this is exactly the sort of thing that could be useful. Brilliant, as usual!

Jan Markley said...

I love the detail and the sensory imagery.

Medeia Sharif said...

Reading this, I could feel/see the shop in my mind.

Shannon said...

I have to say, this one is one of my favorites!

Laura Pauling said...

Good timing. How did you know there was an herb/healthy store in my wip? Thanks!

Jen said...

Excellent Angela!!! Keep them coming, I'm really loving them!

Elana Johnson said...

Ooh, I love the image/sound of papery things moving. Like dried herbs or whatever. Great job!

Jennifer Probst said...

I love drowning in the imagery and feeling all of my senses engaged. Thanks so much for reminding me to incorporate this in my writing. Wonderful post.

Marian Perera said...

This one's perfect for me! Your lists always appeal to the senses as well as the mind, but when something taps into fantasy it's even more useful.

Jaleh D said...

I'm probably going to be utilizing items from this entry very soon. Great stuff here.

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