Setting Thesaurus Entry: Cruise Ship

Sight
Inside: people in swimsuits/wraps/flip-flops, sharply-dressed ship employees, fancy restaurants, fast-food shops, retail stores, bars and lounges, kiosks selling merchandise and snacks, casinos, game rooms for kids, multiple elevators and stairwells, hand-sanitizing stations, narrow corridors with cabin doors on either side going around the ship's perimeter, half-empty dishes on trays sitting outside of doors, privacy tags hanging from door handles, cleaning carts, doors open to reveal rooms in the process of being cleaned, small but efficiently spaced rooms with all the amenities, towels on the bed folded into interesting shapes (monkey, bird, etc.), mints on the pillows, heavy curtains, glass door leading to balcony, small table and chairs on the balcony, damp towels and suits hanging over chairs, people on the balcony drinking/leaning on the railing/reading, watching the horizon, people dressed up for formal ballroom dinners

Outside: open-air decks surrounded by metal railings, a mini-amphitheater for evening entertainment, swimming pools, rock walls, wave pools, slides, kids area with ping pong tables/mini-golf/splash pools/basketball and volleyball courts, exercise track around the ship's perimeter, stacked emergency rowboats, gleaming railings and spotless glass doors/windows, flags flying, hundreds of beach chairs with people laying out/sleeping/reading/chatting/in various stages of sunburn, teens clumped together or listening to iPods, kids running/swimming/splashing, drinks perspiring in the heat, water as far as the eye can see, whitecaps, smaller ships/sailboats, seabirds


Sounds
Inside: muted TV sounds and speech from inside cabins, people talking quietly in the corridors, doors opening and closing, singing/whistling as employees clean cabins, elevators dinging, the noise of a lot of people in a small space, rustle of bags as people carry their purchases, eating sounds from restaurants, flap of flip-flops in the day, clack of heels at night, music blaring from clubs and bars, muffled steps on carpeted stairs,

Outside: Quiet whoosh of the ship moving through the water, the wind in your ears, flags flapping, birds squawking, accented voices of ship employees, automatic doors sliding open, squealing and splashing from kids' area, running feet, music from ship's speakers, announcements coming over the speakers, basketballs bouncing, people cheering at the wave pool, ping-pong balls pinging


Smells
Briny sea water, sunscreen, lotion, sweat, hot dogs, pizza, beer, hamburgers, floor cleaner, furniture polish, hand sanitizer, hair spray, soap, rain


Tastes
Sweat, sunscreen, cold water, soda, juice, beer, tropical drinks, ice cream, gum, candy, every possible food you could want to eat


Touch
Inside: soft carpet under your feet, crisp air-conditioned air, brass railings under your fingers, foamy hand sanitizer, plastic key card sliding through the lock to open your door, a cold shower washing away the sweat and sunscreen film, tight-fitting evening wear, the weight of a coat/shawl/pajmina over your arm in case the evening gets cold, sinking into a soft bed and pillows, warm breeze drifting into the cabin from an open balcony door,

Outside: sun's heat on your shoulders, sweat dampening your skin, wind whipping your hair into your face and sticking it to your neck, clingy wet swimsuit, plastic slats of beach chairs pressing into your skin, scratchy towel, refreshing pool water (salt, not chlorine), heavy sunscreen/suntan lotion on your skin, prickly sunburn, light-headed sensation of getting too much sun, water splashing from the pool, gritty feel of sweaty skin in need of a shower, ear buds perfectly fitted to your ears to block out the world, dry/sticky mouth when you get thirsty, perspiration from a cup or glass wetting your hands, a plastic straw carrying replenishing liquids to your system,


Helpful hints:


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

Example 1: I stared at the sterile wall of the infirmary exam room through an eye that was blurry, puffy, and oozing some disgusting yellow stuff. The doctor called it pink eye, but I preferred to think of it as the Flaming Red Ball of Itch. He explained, with a disdainful sigh, that conjunctivitis was a common ailment on cruise ships and that if guests used the hand sanitizers as often as they should, we would see less occurrences. He then gave me the bill. I considered oozing on him and pointing him toward the nearest sanitizer. Instead, I pulled out my VISA. Hopefully, it was contaminated.

Example 2: From the top deck, the ocean's surface looked like shards of broken mirror catching the moon's glow and hurling it back in its face. The wind tangled my hair and pushed me off balance. I pounded the metal railing, crumpling the paper in my hand and throwing it as far away as I could. With a whimper, I sank to the deck floor.


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

Example 1: (Simile)
Waves pounded the hull like zombies that had caught the scent of fresh blood. (Ange, that was for you.)

Example 2: (Metaphor)
Rows of bodies covered the pool deck while people moved precariously between them, looking for loved ones or just a way out. It was Gone with the Wind, but with bikinis instead of hoop skirts.

A Small Favor?



Hi guys--I hope you don't mind me asking, but I could sure use a teensy bit of help! I've written a prologue for my current Middle Grade novel, and I need to know what the reader understands from it.

I don't want to say more than that, and I'm sorry to be cryptic, but I would hugely appreciate a few people who would be willing to give it a read (it's a single scene, just over 800 words) and tell me their impression. I need to know if it's confusing or not. So, just a reader's first impression, that's it!

If you have a few minutes to take a quick read today or tonight, just mail me and I'll fire it off to you. If you don't have time, no worries. I know we're all busy and not everyone can do such a quick, last minute request. 

Thanks so much!

Ange

EDITED TO ADD: Holy Bananas! In the time it took me to rustle up some food for the kiddies, a ton of emails came in. So THANK YOU ALL, and I'll email everyone ASAP.  

I should have enough feedback now, so I'll CLOSE this request for feedback. Thanks to everyone who responded. You guys are great!

Weather Thesaurus Entry: Mist or Fog

WEATHER is an important element in any setting, providing sensory texture and contributing to the mood the writer wishes to create in a scene. With a deft touch, weather can enhance the character's emotional response to a specific location, it can add conflict, and it can also (lightly) foreshadow coming events.

However, caution must accompany this entry: the weather should not be used as a window into a character's soul. The weather can add invisible pressure for the character, it can layer the SCENE with symbolism, it can carefully hint at the internal landscape, but it must never OVERTLY TELL emotion. Such a heavy-handed approach results in weather cliches and melodrama (a storm raging above a bloody battle, a broken-hearted girl crying in the rain).

SENSORY DESCRIPTORS:

Sight:

Hazy whiteness & curls of smoky air currents that obscure surroundings and make distances difficult to fathom. Fog is denser than mist, and visibility is reduced. Mutes light and color, and can hide movement.

Smell:

Damp, picks up the scent of brine and algae near water sources, earthy scents (soil, pine, greenery) in natural areas and urban scents in cities (oil/gasoline, pollutants, refuse, wet cardboard, oil & food smells from fast food chains, etc)

Taste:

No taste, but breath would be moist in nature. It may carry a briny tang if near a water source.

Sound:

No sound in itself, but in natural environments, animals would be less likely to make movement/noise for fear of predators they could not see, causing an 'unnatural quiet'. A lack of a breeze contributes to this, causing sound to not carry or seem muffled.

Touch:

A cold, dewy sensation against the skin. With little to no air movement, the moist air will cling to hair and clothing, weighing both down and casing water droplets to form during prolonged exposure. If the weather is cold enough, frost may also form.

EMOTIONAL TRIGGERS:

Mood: By nature, mist and fog obscures and hides. It causes an atmosphere of mystery and uncertainty, and if danger (real or perceived) is present, it can ratchet up fear. Characters rely on sight more so than anything else, so the visibility restrictions, combined with the unpleasant feeling of cold and damp, can easily play on emotions. Imagination and adrenaline runs high. Characters tend to be on guard and alert to all forms of sensory input when mist or fog is present.

Symbolism: Doom, danger, mystery, confusion, a knowledge veil that the character must break through to achieve their goals, unseen opposing forces, uncertainly, a challenge ahead

Possible Cliches: Mist and fog used in dreams to imply repressed memory or knowledge, using it in conjunction with locations that are magnets for scary/paranormal (IE: graveyards, haunted houses, etc.)

OTHER: Mist forms at night/early morning when the temperature is low and the air is filled with moisture and is burned off by sun and heat. Most common near water sources (harbors, rivers, lakes), you can usually see over the top of mist or fog at a distance as it is a cloud that forms along the ground.

Don't be afraid to use the weather to add contrast. Unusual pairings, especially when drawing attention to the Character's emotions, is a powerful trigger for conflict. Consider how the bleak mood of a character is even more noticeable as morning sunlight dances across the crystals of fresh snow on the walk to work. Or how the feeling of betrayal is so much more poignant on a hot summer day. Likewise, success or joy can be hampered by a cutting wind or drizzling sleet, foreshadowing conflict to come.

Maximize your Blog & Twitter Relationship

A lot of people wonder how they can create a Breakout Blog that will help build platform and connect them to their audience. This series on Blogging Tips looks at ways to maximize blog performance so they can reach these goals.


People who know me know that I am big into sharing great writing content, helping to raise the profile of fellow bloggers/writers and utilizing social media to do both.

Why? Lots of people have helped me get to where I am, and I want to pay it forward. If I can do something to help another, I do my best to make it happen. (There isn't anything special or amazing about this by the way--most people do this.) However, this type of community attitude IS what makes me feel privileged to call myself a writer!

But here's the thing...sometimes sharing your content is DIFFICULT.

Rather than a single click to post your brilliant blog post to twitter and send more readers your way, I have to go through multiple steps.


What that looks like:


1) I read your blog post. I decide to share it. I look for a share button to twitter on your post....but there isn't one.

2) I open a new window. I sign into Twitter.

3) I open another window to Bit.ly so I can shrink your URL into something Twitter friendly, leaving me room to describe what your blog post is about & title it.

4) I cut your URL, paste it to Bit.ly.

5) I copy the newly shortened URL.

6) I return to Twitter, paste the URL, add the title, commentary & a #hashtag and hit publish.

Compare that with having a share button on your post:

1) I read your blog post. I decide to share it. I find the share button and a window pops up with all the deets auto filled for me: URL, blog post title, etc.

2) I type in a #hashtag and hit publish.

I've talked before about making your blog easy to love. This is another one of those small ways you can really maximize opportunities to have your content shared. People are busy, and if it takes them too much time to try and share your content, they will move on to another blog.

Oh, did I mention adding a share button is incredibly EASY?

If you have a blogger blog, go to Design, then Blog Posts. Hit 'edit'. Click the 'Show Share Buttons' and save.

If for some reason this doesn't work or you don't have a Blogger Blog, then go here.

If you want a full range of share buttons, not just to Twitter, go here.

Twitter is an amazing tool to network with other writers, and find great content to help you improve as a writer. If you have a blog, you should always be looking for ways to make it as user friendly as possible. This definitely means making your posts easy to share on Twitter.

FYI, I have two twitter accounts: @WriterThesaurus is for sharing amazing tools I find for writers, and @AngelaAckerman is for chit chat & sharing great blog content with my readers. If you tweet, please look me up!

Setting Thesaurus Entry: Medieval Markets

Sight

Cramped wooden stalls, sweaty vendors, bright fabric roofing or simple framing to hang merchandise from, wares laid out on cloth or leaves (food, vegetables, jewelry, weaponry, books, bright bolts of cloth and silk, spices, fruit, alcohol/ale, clothing & shoes, elixirs & powders, pendant/flags/statuettes/souvenirs of royalty in power, baskets, leather goods, hanks of smoked & fresh meat [chicken, ham, salted beef, fish], bread goods and pastries), crates, bins, racks, shelves, boxes, barrels, shoppers browsing with carry baskets or satchels, jingling pouches of coins, orphaned children working the crowds and stalls, begging or thieving, smoke rising from cook stoves or portable grills, midden piles, flies, stray dogs, trash, muddy flagstones, packed bodies, musicians & performers, people haggling/bartering, tethered goats, crates of live chicken or rabbits for sale, a soothsayer tent, exotic creatures or good from foreign lands

Sounds

Haggling, bartering, sellers hawking wares, people calling out to friends, laughter, animals braying/barking/clucking, creaking wagons as they pass, the clop of horses' hooves, mugs hitting the tabletop, people calling for service in eating areas or outdoor drinking establishments, meat sizzling on a grill, gossip, packages crinkling, vendors banging on a pot/whistling to get attention or demonstrate a product's sturdiness, music, sun protective cloth on stalls flapping, beads clicking together, thatch rustling in the breeze, the jingle of coins

Smells

Spices, grilling meats, yeast from baked bread, sweat, rot from alleyway middens, dust, char, smoke, over-ripe fruit, manure, oils, leather, perfume, ale

Tastes

Ale, beer/wine, fresh juices, spicy meats, bread & rolls, sweet rolls, candied fruit, roasted nuts, kabobs

Touch

Cobbles underfoot, stepping to avoid refuse, manure or muddy patches, tripping on loose clay, stroking fabric for quality, testing buckles, ties and straps for durability, hefting the weight of something (a knife blade, pot, etc), fingering a handful of coin as you decide whether to purchase or not, squeezing into gaps to reach a stall, bumping into people in crowded areas, nudging, elbows poking, having feet stepped on, goats or dogs bumping against legs, the pull of a heavy basket on arm, full of new purchases, pointing to a specific item, holding up a piece of clothing or piece of fabric, paging through a book, tapping a tray of goods to select an item to look at, juggling hot food or a drink, readjusting packages, feeling hot sun on the back of the neck, wiping at sweaty forehead, shading eyes from the sun to look around, fingering beads or decoration on clothing or jewelry, lifting spice pots and sachets to the nose to smell, sorting through fruits or vegetables for unbruised product, turning away or flapping a hand to feign disinterest or disgust at a vendor's pricing in hopes of him or her readjusting the price, holding onto the hand of a child so they are not lost in the crowd, smoke stinging the eyes

Helpful hints:


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

Example 1:

Whenever possible, Marcel would fetch water early, crossing Market Square at dawn as the vendors arrived to set up their booths. The sunlight fell gentle on his shoulders and the air still held that crisp, dewy smell. Sometimes he would linger a moment or two, admiring bead work on a festival shirt or the sheen of a dagger's blade, dreaming of the day that he could afford such things.

Example 2:

Karla hated running the outdoor tables for her uncle on market day. After a few pints, the air turned fetid with sour ale and the customers were much too free with their hands, while being stingy with their tips.

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

Example 1: (Simile)


Inside the ring of brightly decorated booths, villagers packed the grassy common like a corral of sheep waiting to be fleeced.

Example 2: (Metaphor)


By noon, the air was alive with spices and honeyed scents. Candied nuts, exotic fruit, sweetbreads and glazed pastry lined the tables in the market, a gauntlet of temptation for those trying to hang onto hard-earned shillings.

Weather Thesaurus Entry: Thunderstorm

WEATHER is an important element in any setting, providing sensory texture and contributing to the mood the writer wishes to create in a scene. With a deft touch, weather can enhance the character's emotional response to a specific location, it can add conflict, and it can also (lightly) foreshadow coming events.

However, caution must accompany this entry: the weather should not be used as a window into a character's soul. The weather can add invisible pressure for the character, it can layer the SCENE with symbolism, it can carefully hint at the internal landscape, but it must never OVERTLY TELL emotion. Such a heavy-handed approach results in weather clichés and melodrama (a storm raging above a bloody battle, a broken-hearted girl crying in the rain).

SENSORY DESCRIPTORS:

Sight:
Heavy gray clouds obscuring the sky, trees/bushes/grassing bending and whipping in the wind, rain pouring down, drops bouncing off the pavement, water running downhill and pooling in low spot, drops racing down a window, flashes of lightning, the after burn effect of seeing the forked lightning on your closed lids after it has hit, twilight darkness that requires turning lights on in the middle of the day

Smell:
Moisture, humidity, earthiness (in rural areas), damp wood, hot asphalt being cooled, a fresh clean smell following the storm, ozone

Taste:
water

Touch:
A sense of heaviness or weightiness in the air, wind whipping your hair and clothes, strong winds knocking you off balance so you have to lean into them, rain being driven into your face, sodden weight of soaked hair and clothes, blurry feel of water running into your eyes, thunder vibrating up through the floor

Sound:
Booming thunder as the sound waves from the lightning reach your ears, windows rattling, rain pounding on the roof, rain pinging against glass windows, an overall elevated noise from the rain that causes you to turn up the TV or talk louder to overcome it, sharp cracking sound of lightning striking something nearby, sudden quiet as the power goes out

EMOTIONAL TRIGGERS:

Mood: The air before a thunderstorm grows heavier and more 'charged' as a storm builds, giving many people (and animals, actually) an unsettled, antsy feeling. The air can get so heavy and humid that it feels weighted, as if it's pressing down on you. For these reasons, along with the inconvenience these storms cause as people try to go about their daily lives, thunderstorms often naturally create a mood of oppression and unease.

Symbolism: Oppression, release, power, confrontation

Possible Clichés: A clap of thunder signaling an important or ominous event, a storm building and breaking as a plot conflict comes to a head, a storm heralding an evil presence or happening

OTHER: To form, thunderclouds require warm, moist air. They don't commonly occur in places where the air is typically cool or dry. This is why thunderstorms happen most frequently in the late spring and summer months. Thunderstorms differ from regular rainstorms in that they usually don't last more than an hour or so, whereas rainfall can go on for days. Lightning is electricity; as such it can cause some specific dangers that have to be taken seriously. To be safe when lightning is present, people should avoid bodies of water, being in wide open places, and standing near tall objects (don't take shelter under a tree, for instance). Severe thunderstorms can also spawn hail and tornadoes; these weather phenomena will be addressed in other entries.

Don't be afraid to use the weather to add contrast. Unusual pairings, especially when drawing attention to the character's emotions, is a powerful trigger for tension. A timid, weak person may be empowered by the force of a thunderstorm to take bold action. In contrast, a thunderstorm occurring in a place where storms are infrequent might bring about excitement or anticipation in an otherwise sedate character.

So That's What Sun Looks Like

As some of you noticed, I was MIA this past week, partaking in a good ol' fashioned family vaycay.

Here in Canada, Spring often likes to take the scenic route if you get my drift. This year our winter has been abnormally long, so it was time to take matters into my own hands! Funny how a simple three hour jaunt by plane can take me from this...


To THIS.

Phoenix, Arizona! As first timers, we had to take in the sights.

First up, we took a totally bad-ass ride in a hummer through the desert near the Superstition Mountains (I have two teen boys, what can I say?)



Our guide was awesome, and really gave us a huge lesson in geography, desert life and local legends, like the Lost Dutchman's Goldmine.



He even pointed out what a saguaro cactus looks like after it's hit by lightning--see how the top is sheared right off?



I loved the fact that we managed to catch part of the blooming season, and so it was much greener than other times of the year.







Amazing, isn't it? We did some hiking, but after my Mount Kilimanjaro climb last year & subsequent Achilles tendon blowout, I was more wary of my limitations.

Out in Sedona, the Red Rock reminded me a lot of the Ngorongoro Crater in Africa. We hiked to Cathedral rock, but I only went part of the way while hubs and the kids went all the way to the top where the vortex is.




We also checked out the Aztec Ruins, Montezuma's Castle. After seeing the site, I'm convinced that I'll have to write about this culture. How incredible is that structure?

I also had some fun with angles and colors while there, messing around with some of Stina Lindenblatt's awesome photography tips.
(If you don't know about Stina's Blog, Seeing Creative, then go over and check it out! Not only does she have a not-to-be-missed Friday Round Up for Writers, she also offers insightful writing advice and photography tricks & hints!)


I learned about the desert, and was amazed by how full of life it is. There are multiple sources of food and water to be found, something I never realized.

In fact, now that I've seen the desert first hand, I'm tempted to redo the Desert Entry in the Setting Thesaurus!


So there you have it, a fab little week away to recharge the batteries. It was blissful to set writing & blogging aside for a week (even though it meant missing our NEW WEATHER THESAURUS launch!) and just kick back.

Have you taken time to enjoy the world around you lately? If not, ditch the computer for an afternoon and go get yourself some nature!

Inside Angela's Brain: Interview @ Mark of the Stars

Click 4 schedule & prizes!
Hi all!

Just a quick note to pass on that Jessica @ Mark of the Stars blog is having a KEWL Blogoversary Celebration laden with great interviews, posts and prizes! Today there's a quickie interview with me, so if you were ever curious about my writing processes, writing interests and stats, do check it out!

Jessica's a great gal and a wonderful supporter of writers and bloggers, so please stop in sometime during her month-long blog party and say hello!

I'm just back from a vacation, and attempting to catch up on everything, so please forgive my absence! I'll post again soon with pictures from my trip to Arizona. :)

--Ange

Setting Thesaurus Entry: Wedding Reception

Sight
Valet parking, a table for gifts and cards, round tables, covered chairs, china place settings, ornate flower centerpieces, helium balloons, candles, linen napkins, champagne glasses, a head table for the bridal party, servers with trays of beverages and hors d'oeuvres (spring rolls, cheeses, quiches, fruit), water, tea, lemonade, coffee, beer bottles, glasses of wine, an open bar, buffet line, wooden dance floor, DJ or live band, big speakers, artificial trees and plants lit with white lights, soft lighting, the cake, people eating and drinking, stray toothpicks on the table, tablecloths that partially hide purses and kicked-off shoes, a crowded dance floor, couples dancing, daughters dancing while standing on daddy's feet, a conga line, line dancing, people collapsed into chairs to take a break, sleepy babies, half-empty dishes, the bride and groom circulating to talk to people, loosened ties, dress jackets draped over chairs, people leaning close to yell over the music, a videographer, camera flashes, guests throwing birdseed or rice as the couple exits


Sounds
Boom of bass music, soothing classical music, scrape of forks on china, clink of glasses, people talking/laughing, feedback from the microphone, toasts and speeches, the DJ announcing the bridal party, quieted voices during the couple's first dance, bursts of laughter during dinner, servers asking if they can clear your dishes, people jumping/clapping/singing on the dance floor, songs fading into one another, loud fast dance music followed by slow romantic songs, cheers and jeers while the cake is being cut, babies crying, children running and laughing, people yelling over the music, drinks being poured, beer bottles being opened, heels clacking across tile or wood floor


Smells
Burning candles, sweat, flowers, food smells, coffee, spilled beer or champagne, perfume and cologne, gum, mints


Tastes
Tears, sweat, chicken, steak, salmon, vegetables, chocolate-covered strawberries, fresh fruit, rolls with butter, coffee, beer, champagne, water, tea, lemonade, wedding cake


Touch
Covered chairs that provide softness and keep you from slipping, tablecloth brushing your knees, heavy silverware, wetness of condensation on water glasses, scratchy linen napkins, aching feet from standing or dancing too long in uncomfortable shoes, too-tight tie around your neck, warm jacket, sweat trickling between shoulder blades or down the side of the face, dry cake crumbs, squishy icing, awkwardness of trying to balance heaped plates with silverware/napkins/full cups, crush of people on the dance floor, music booming through the floor and into your chest, people stepping on your toes, cool drink slipping down your throat when you take a break from dancing, ice settling in your glass, quiet sway while dancing with someone you love

Helpful hints:


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

Example 1: It was the coolest reception venue I'd ever seen. Brick-walled, dim, and cozy—on weeknights, it probably hosted poetry readings and open-mic nights for jazz up-and-comers.


Example 2: I wiggled in my chair, trying to get comfortable in the slinky little dress Tessa had talked me into buying. The gyrating mass on the dance floor was calling my name but if I tried to get out there and wiggle, something would rip and I'd turn this family reception into an NC-17 event before you could say DD. The music faded and in the quiet between songs I heard a distinct click. I whirled to face the creepy old man and his disposable camera at table #4. "Pervert!" I mouthed. I threw a napkin over my cleavage, which was like trying to cover the Grand Canyon with a beach blanket, and glared at him as he blinded me with another flash.


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

Example 1: (Simile) The guests rushed the buffet line like stampeding cattle in the Old West.


Example 2: (Metaphor) Ben craned his neck to see the top of the cake. It was the eighth wonder of the world—the Tower of Babel reaching up to the heavens. He licked his lips and clutched his fork. When God saw fit to cast it down, he'd be waiting.

Weather Thesaurus Entry: Blizzard

WEATHER is an important element in any setting, providing sensory texture and contributing to the mood the writer wishes to create in a scene. With a deft touch, weather can enhance the character's emotional response to a specific location, it can add conflict, and it can also (lightly) foreshadow coming events.

However, caution must accompany this entry: the weather should not be used as a window into a character's soul. The weather can add invisible pressure for the character, it can layer the SCENE with symbolism, it can carefully hint at the internal landscape, but it must never OVERTLY TELL emotion. Such a heavy-handed approach results in weather cliches and melodrama (a storm raging above a bloody battle, a broken-hearted girl crying in the rain).

SENSORY DESCRIPTORS:

Sight:

A flurry of snowflakes, often flying past on the diagonal and combined with a cold, biting wind. Poor visibility and light quality, snow shifts and drifts, and the surroundings are obscured. Flakes build up quickly on hair and clothing, and ice crystals form on skin, freezing within minutes. Landmarks are often buried and heavy snowfall shifts the landscape quickly, erasing tracks and trails, making exposure to a storm very dangerous.

Smell:

An ozone like scent, fresh & crisp air so cold it can cause pain in the nostrils


Taste:

No taste, will bring down core body temperature quickly if eaten and not melted first. 

Sound:

Howling or whistling wind, tapping sound as flakes ping off clothing, raspy breath

Touch:

Flakes pelt against frozen cheeks, cling to eyelashes and hair. Numbs exposed skin, pain in fingertips and toes, creates an exhausting chore to break a trail through accumulative snow drifts. Shivering, teeth begin to chatter and characters hug themselves to stay warm. Breath warms face briefly before sucked away by the cold. Dry, aching throat from thirst and cold. Wind will cut through clothing, chaps lips, forces eyes into a squint, watery eyes. Discomfort arises from snow drifting down collar of coat, into shoes and boots, and between mittens and cuffs.


EMOTIONAL TRIGGERS:

Mood: A blizzard can provide a strong backdrop of isolation, either for a character or community. Extreme weather forces people together, which can create a volatile environment or an opportunity to confront issues. Blizzards tend to create a feeling of the outside world being held at bay, allowing characters to look inside themselves and their relationships. Readers focus on the immediate scene as characters deal with feeling trapped, which will bring out either their best or worst qualities.

Symbolism: Death, an impossible challenge, foolhardiness, isolation

Possible Cliches: Walking out into a blizzard unequipped as a way of suicide

OTHER: Blizzards occur in cold regions only. Temperature must be close to or below freezing at ground level, and is usually well below freezing. With the wind chill added, exposed skin can freeze after only a small amount of time, causing frostbite and possibly death. Visibility is so reduced that you cold be only a few feet away from safety and never find it. This type of storm can drop several feet of snow within a short period of time and may completely paralyze a populated area by knocking out power and making travel difficult if not impossible. When using a storm of this magnitude, do your research to make sure the severity of it fits your fictional setting.

Don't be afraid to use the weather to add contrast. Unusual pairings, especially when drawing attention to the Character's emotions, is a powerful trigger for tension. Consider how the bleak mood of a character is even more noticeable as morning sunlight dances across the crystals of fresh snow on the walk to work. Or how the feeling of betrayal is so much more poignant on a hot summer day. Likewise, success or joy can be hampered by a cutting wind or drizzling sleet, foreshadowing conflict to come.

Introducing...The Weather Thesaurus!

There are many components of description in the writer's arsenal, and arguably, WEATHER is one of the most powerful. Weather is something that each one of us is attuned to. It dictates our actions on a daily basis. Cold temperatures, warm temperatures, rain, sleet, snow--all affect our mood and how we view the day ahead.  Weather can instantly change our outlook, fill us with dread, or hope, or even cause internal reflection.

Because of our strong associations to natural phenomena, skilled writers are able to draw on & manipulate reader emotion by using weather in their writing. Not only is it a powerful element to shape Setting, used correctly it can create mood, produce conflict and focus the reader's attention squarely where you want it to be. Weather & earthly Phenomena can work for or against your characters, providing insight into their internal landscape through contrast or symmetry, foreshadow external events or become a formidable obstacle to their goals.

Because of its powerful affinity for symbolism, weather does require caution when used in writing. It is possible to get caught up in the symmetry and pair a heartbroken lover's tears with a rain-streaked window. A violent thunderstorm looks down on a heroic battlefield scene. The sun bursts out of cloud cover just as a great internal realization clarifies itself. Overused ideas can tint your writing with cliches or paint your words purple, so a light touch is needed when working weather.

We hope the entries in this collection will help to open up ideas on how to add layering to your worlds and think about how different types of weather might enhance your storyline, evoke emotion and create tension! Don't be afraid of contrasts & unusual pairings, either--often the unexpected is what captivates a reader's attention.

All entries can be found in the sidebar under 'Weather Thesaurus'.

Canuck for a Day, and Whatnot


I was at Epcot this weekend with my Shmoopie, celebrating our 15th wedding anniversary. Good times, people, good times. Dinner at the Germany buffet, listening to the British Invasion in the UK and...Canada. Oh, Canada. Of course, I had to prove that I actually went, so here I am. My tribute to Angela, and all our Canuck followers.

*insert Koo-loo-koo-koo song from Strange Brew*

In other news, I'm super excited to be guest-posting today at Letter Go. Owllady asked me to write something about settings, which, you know, I love to talk about. Settings are tricksy, my precious. They're either sitting silently in the background so as not to draw attention to their lameness or they're screaming for a complete Flip This House makeover. Either way, they usually need work. So if your setting needs fixing up, head over to Owllady's blog for a few tips.

FINAL Symbolism Entry: Friendship/Camaraderie

That's right, folks. You're looking at the very last entry for the Symbolism Thesaurus. But that doesn't mean we're leaving you hanging (would we do that???). Check back early next week for the GREAT UNVEILING to find out what new thesaurus will be taking its place.

Every day we interact with objects, places and sensations that affect the way we think and feel. This can be used to the writer's advantage by planting symbols in the reader's path to reinforce a specific message, feeling or idea.

Look at the setting and the character's state of mind, and then think about what you want the reader to see. Is there a descriptive symbol or two that works naturally within the scene to help foreshadow an event or theme, or create insight into the character's emotional plight?



In Nature:
A wolf pack
A herd of cows
Horses grazing together in a pasture
Rabbits grazing
Flocks of birds
Otters frisking in a river
Monkeys grooming one another
Pets playing together
Trees with trunks intertwined
Vines
Clusters of flowers
Symbiotic relationships (clown fish/sea anemone, plover/crocodile, bumblebees/flowering plants)


In Society:
A campfire
A friendly neighborhood bar or coffee shop
A braid (multiple pieces bound together)
A friendship knot
Laughter
Clasped hands
A yellow rose
Shared jewelry (bracelets, lockets, rings, etc)
Pairs
Puzzle pieces
A table
Kids on a playground
Cowboys on the range

These are just a few examples of things one might associate with friendship or camaraderie. Some are more powerful than others. A group of animals is a strong symbol, and likely will not require reinforcement. However, cowboys could stand for a number of different things and not foreshadow friendship on its own. Let the story's tone decide if one strong symbol or several smaller ones work the best.

Setting Thesaurus Entry: Wedding Ceremony (Church)

Sight
A church and all that it usually contains, soft lighting, real or electric candles, candelabras with wax dripping down the sides, flower arrangements, white silk bows on the pews, cloth runners down the aisle, rose petals strewn down the aisle, men in tuxes standing in a row at the front with boutonnieres in their lapels, a priest/pastor/officiant, attendants in matching dresses, bouquets of roses/lilies/babies breath, a flower girl and ring-bearer, a pillow with rings on it, the bride in white, a long train and veil, sequins and lace, dressed-up guests, pictures of the bride and groom, a guest book, a table piled with gifts and envelopes, printed programs, tissue boxes a the ends of the pews, flashing cameras, black-clad videographers and photographers, the wedding planner standing at the doors and directing attendants, a sound tech running lights and sound equipment at the back

Sounds
guests whispering, programs being turned and folded, babies fussing, soft piano/keyboard/organ/harp/flute/guitar music, doors opening, a hush that falls when the ceremony begins, the rustle of silk and taffeta as the attendants come down the aisle, oohs and aahs when the flower girl and ring bearer appear, crescendo in music as the bride appears (the wedding march, Canon in D, Trumpet Voluntary, etc), the rustle of everyone rising and turning, sniffling, crying, noses being blown, amplified voice of the officiant, quiet responses from bride and groom as they say their vows, prayer, songs being sung, applause/whistles as they are pronounced man and wife, kissing noises, louder voices from guests as the ceremony ends, the officiant inviting guests to attend the reception (ie, get out so we can start the hour-long picture-taking extravaganza)

Smells
Burning candles, wispy candle smoke, flowers, hair spray, perfume, cologne, chewing gum, mints

Tastes
tears, gum, mints

Touch
a sharp-cornered envelope with a check inside, the boxy weight of a wedding present, stiff/starchy feel of new clothes, your shoes sinking into the thick carpet, a hard wooden pew, a soft-cushioned pew, people pressed closely together, folding/rolling of the program as you wait for the ceremony to start, papery tissue in your hands, silky pew bows, twisted neck or back as you try to see around people, the prickle of tears, warm tears running down your cheeks, quivering chin and wooden feel of your cheeks as you try to smile instead of cry, perfumed air wafting your way as a guest fans herself with a program, warmth from many burning candles, bass notes from the organ vibrating up through the floor, goose bumps during a beautiful song or touching part of the ceremony


Helpful hints:


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

Example 1:
The wailing was so loud, Drew could barely hear the pastor. Good grief, she sounded like a paid mourner. He screwed up his face and cocked an ear to hear the words he was supposed to repeat. Mumbling the vows--no one would be able to hear them anyway, bar shouting--he gave his bride a tentative smile. She winked and rolled her eyes at his mother's dramatics, and Drew's smile grew. He guessed she knew what she was getting in for.

Example 2:
Flower arrangements covered every inch of the stage. Daintily drooping lily bouquets adorned each pew. The grand piano was in danger of slamming shut under the weight of roses on its lid. I wrinkled my nose as the mix of floral scents assailed my sinuses. Instead of birdseed baggies, they should've passed out samples of Nasonex.

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

Example 1: (Simile)
Squeezing me into that bridesmaid's dress was like pushing pudding through a sieve; it was possible, but no one really wanted to do it, least of all the pudding.

Example 2: (Metaphor)
Sunlight shone through the stained glass and bathed the couple with color, God's personal wedding gift to the happy couple.

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