Setting Thesaurus Entry: Bonfire

Red/yellow/orange/white flames, flames reaching/flickering/snapping, sparks drifting upward, embers glowing, smoke, logs/branches/twigs in various stages of burning, scorched area where grass has been cleared, ring of stones/shells/bricks, nearby pile of wood, axes, machetes, leaves/twigs/acorns/wood chips scattered around, trails where branches/logs were dragged to the fire, glint of moon on ocean/lake/river nearby, log sections and upended tree stumps for sitting, folding chairs, beach chairs, drink cans, Styrofoam coffee cups, people sitting/standing/dancing/roasting food, dogs, parked cars, hay wagon, sharpened sticks/straightened coat hangers for roasting marshmallows or hot dogs, a guitar, the night sky, silhouettes and shadows

Crackle and pop of the fire, soft crash of logs breaking and the fire settling, logs rubbing together when someone rearranges them, snap of twigs being broken in half, axes and machetes biting into wood, wood being dragged over grass/sand/forest detritus, wind blowing the flames or nearby treetops, ocean murmuring, river chuckling, crickets chirping, insects buzzing, owls hooting, people slapping mosquitoes, laughter, talking, singing, whispering, parents telling kids to stay back, strum of guitar, hissing as marshmallows burn fingers, yelling when sparks pop out of the fire into the crowd, plop of gooey marshmallow hitting the dirt, rustle of chocolate bar wrappers

Wood fire smoke, ashes, fresh-cut wood, hot air, coffee, beer, hot dogs, insect repellant, sweat

Smores, Marshmallows, chocolate, graham crackers, hot dogs, roasted nuts, coffee, soda, water, beer, hot chocolate, cider, sweat, char, sand/dirt

smooth log/rough stone that you're sitting on, sag of beach/lawn chair, knobby stick in your hands as you roast something in the flames, fire's warmth, sting of an ember that pops and hits you, dry eyes from the heat, scratchy feel of smoke in your throat, smoke burning your eyes, prickle of too-warm cheeks, gooey marshmallow, melty chocolate on your face, crumbling graham cracker, fingers sticking as you pull a marshmallow off a stick, fingers burning from a too-hot hot dog, wind whipping your hair into your face, cold/hot night air, opposing feel of being hot on one side and cold on the other, bodies huddled together, sting of mosquito, sweat dampening your hair

Helpful hints:

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

Example 1:
The winter wind grabbed at my hair, trying to ensnare me, but the fire's warmth defeated it. An ember popped and peppered a group of girls with sparks. They screamed and grabbed the nearest guys. I smiled into my scarf, wishing I knew these people better and knowing I'd get the chance soon enough. It was enough to not be spending my first Friday night in this town alone.

Example 2:
Jorn's body was as rigid as a sentinel's, but the flames jumped and played, taunting him. He clutched the seventh and final branch, its rippled bark pressing into his skin. The wood quivered as he fought the desire to bash the fire's carefully-placed logs and beat out every last ember until all that remained was a cold pile of nothing. With trembling arms, he placed the branch on the fire. It was done. The ceremony was complete. Tears slipped down his face as he turned to face the waiting crowd.

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

Example 1: (Simile)
The fire gnawed at the massive log, consuming it like a disease until only a sickly pile of ash remained.

Example 2: (Metaphor)
The flames pulled higher, straining against the embers—a fiery rebellion yearning for freedom.


Laura Pauling said...

Thanks Becca! I bet some of these are easier to do than others. Bonfires would be fun because I think we've all been to a bonfire and can draw on our own memories! Great job.

Stina Lindenblatt said...

Hmmm. I now have a strange desire to have a bonfire. Or at least put one in the book I'm writing. :D

Bish Denham said...

I can smell it, see it, taste it, feel it and hear it. Love a good fire.

Jemi Fraser said...

Bonfires bring so many strong memories! Love this list!

Beth said...

Great post. You always do such informative posts. But I like this one b/c my book has a lot of fire!

tracikenworth said...

Needed this more than once lately. My characters are the outdoorsy type. Will keep for terrific reference. Thank you!!

Charlie Pulsipher said...

Used to be a New Years tradition to gather up all the christmas trees we could find on the curbs and drag them off into the desert, piling them one on top another until we had to use ladders. Sixty foot flames that clawed at the sky, could see the bonfire miles away. Heat the pushes everyone back, scrambling for the safety of rocks and ledges well outside the blast zone. I miss them terribly each year.
Funny Stuff I Write And Draw

Becca Puglisi said...

Bonfires do seem to have universal appeal. I had kind of a hard time writing this entry because I've been to so many in different locales--at the beach, on my grandfather's land on New Year's Eve, at summer camp. It was hard to know what surrounding details to include. Good times, good times.

Cynthia Chapman Willis said...

Mmmmm, smores! I felt like I was at a bonfire--perfect! And wonderful. Thank you!


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