Setting Thesaurus Entry: Lake


Rocky shoreline, gravel, water lapping the shore, skimmers, minnows scuttling between the rocks, ducks, geese (plucking grass from the lush slope, swimming in the reeds, preening, herding babies) seagulls searching for garbage left behind on the beach or swooping along the sky, mosquitoes, flies, bees, dragonflies, picnic tables, benches, blankets spread out on the slope for families or friends to lay in the sun and socialize, picnic baskets, dock, boat launch, Young kids playing at the water's edge, older kids in deeper, swimming, splashing, fishermen at the dock dropping lines, boats & jet skis racing back and forth in the deep water, colorful canoes, fishing boats and rowboats dotting the water, floating dock filled with teenagers jumping in and out of the water or sunning on the wooden planks, reeds, grass, fish, lake scum at the shoreline, broken glass or bottles on the shore or in the shallows, dead birds, tow line bits, coils of broken fishing line, trash and dead fish caught in the current or washed ashore, beer cans left behind in the grass, trash cans, public washroom, trees surrounding the lake, houses with private docks along the water's edge, trails leading down to the water, deer drinking at the water's edge, flowers, driftwood, tree stump 'dead heads' sticking up in the water, duckweed, parking lot, some lakes will also have camp grounds adjoined to them


The roar of on board motors, a patterned 'whump, whump, whump' as a speedboat goes over it's own wake and hits the waves, music from portable players, talking/laughing or visitors eating or spending the day at the lake, the gentle lap of water hitting the shoreline, the buzz of winged insects, the wind sifting through the leaves, splashes, bird calls, wings flapping, trucks at the boat launch driving their boat trailers into the water to pick up or drop off boats, the sputtering of a boat motor starting up, the wet slide of an oar slipping through the water, the creak of trees on a quiet day, feet crunching along a graveled shoreline, plunking down a folding chair, rustle of food wrappers, the hiss of a beer or pop can opening, crickets, frogs croaking, at night, the crackle of a lakeside bonfire


The peaty smell of algae, fresh air, food cooking on portable grills, grass, wet earth, water, gasoline fumes from boats, sunscreen, snacks like Doritos or popcorn with strong odors, flowers, seaweed or rotten vegetation at the edge


Food cooked off a portable grill (burgers, hot dogs, chicken, ribs) potato salad, chips, pop, coleslaw, take out (like a bucket of KFC or McDonald's), beer, sandwiches bought or made at home, water, gum, mints


The sharp cold gravel on bare feet, the cold fluidity of water on shin, shivers, grass sliding past bare ankles, pulling or tugging a bathing suit into place, water seeping through shoes or sandals, sand caught in shoes and other places, sand gritty on skin, the grease of sunscreen, the warmth of sun on skin, water droplets landing on warm skin, wading through the shallows, tingling skin where cold water touches, jumping as something touches a leg in the water (seaweed or fish), scraping back windblown hair with fingers, adjusting sunglasses, digging fingers into an ice chest for a bottle of water, leaning back against a warm towel or blanket, wrapping a dry towel over your wet body, yanking off an outer layer of clothes to go swimming or pulling on an outer layer after swimming and struggling with friction between wet skin & suit and dry clothes, walking along a boardwalk, leaning against a wooden railing, sitting on the pier and swinging legs, reclining in a boat, pulling an oar in a canoe, laying the oar across the lap to enjoy the silence and beauty of a deserted inlet

Helpful hints:

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

Example 1:

Moonlight flickered against the water as I shivered in the shallows, cold radiating up through my feet. Everyone else had already jumped in and were busy splashing and dunking, filling the air with shrieks. I wrapped my arms around my suit, thinking about all the things waiting in the deeper water--broken glass to cut my feet, rocks and slimy algae to slip on. My heartbeat sped up. What if a fish brushed against my legs in the dark?

Example 2:

Donna leaned forward on the blanket and curled her arms around her knees. Sunlight massaged warmth into her back and she closed her eyes, letting go of all the stress from the work week--a yelling boss, reports piling up on her desk, missed deadlines. Instead she filled herself with the smell of the fresh air, the sound of the water gently slapping against the shore and feathery slide of the wind blowing her hair across her bare shoulders. Bliss.

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

Example 1: (Simile)

Fog curled along the shoreline like a giant's final exhale.

Example 2: (Metaphor)

A net of slimy weeds snagged my legs, keeping me from the water's surface.


Heather Hellmann said...

Your descriptions make me long for summer. Beautiful.

Karen Lange said...

Brings me back to my childhood - there was a lake at a state park we often went to...Great stuff, thanks so much!
Have a good weekend,

Shannon O'Donnell said...

I have a small lake area planned for my new WIP. Yay! This will be great!

Two days ago,I printed copies of over half of your setting thesaurus entries so I have them handy when I begin writing. You guys are truly a wonderful resource.

Angela Ackerman said...

Yes, this one was a nice one to do on a cold winter day, lol.

apologies to anyone confused by the empty post this am...we had some tech difficulties but sorted them out. Have a great weekend!


Marcia said...

Oh, you guys, there's a lake in my WIP. I love you! :)

Laura Pauling said...

You did this on purpose, didn't you? Knowing it was going to be freezing this weekend! :) Alas, I don't have a small lake in my story, but I do in my town and it's frozen over. Waaa!

Carol Riggs said...

Great list, and I especially loved the "whump, whump, whump" of the speedboat! Have a great weekend.

Kelly said...

When I saw the subject I thought, "Lake, Big Lake" from Sixteen Candles.
Another great entry!

C.R. Evers said...

makes me want to go to the lake! Congrats on another great list!

ali said...

I *love* this! Thank you!

tracikenworth said...

I've got a lake in mine too!! It's featured in many of my stories, so these details will help me "paint" a clearer picture. Thanks so much!!

Beth said...

I can't believe how much work you put into these entries. Now you've got me thinking about how to put a lake setting in my manuscript!


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