Eddies, dripping branches, current, glossy, darting shapes, water striders, leaf-dappled, twisting flow, drag, silt, reeds, bowed willows, shadows, sparkling, mirror, bent grasses, carve, clash, boulders, ripples, carry, twigs, debris, gliding birds, minnows, fish, smooth stones, slime, weeds, ducklings, drifting, lazy, tepid, mud, churning flow, winding, clover banks, wild flowers, floating petals, shale, gravel, plunging waters, seep, reflection, dragonflies, slosh, sparkle, brook, ford, spray, shimmer, mossy, sluice, bank, shore, sandy, cracked mud, polluted waters, oil-slick, glide, dead fall, float, dam, deadwood, plunge, destructive, torrent, hurling, basin, head, fork, meander, salmon, beavers, rapids, swift, swollen
Frothing, crashing, clash, splashing, chuckling, burbling, tumbling, rush, trickle, gurgle, roar, simmer, murmur, rumble, clash, glug, warble, thundering, musical, gushing, din, bird calls, chattering squirrels, buzzing flies or bees, animals scampering through nearby undergrowth
Algae-scented, briny, wet earth, dank, musty, reek, fetid, rank, fresh, clean, pungent, wildflowers, grass, clover, rotting deadfall or leaves
Cold, quenching, thirsty, numbing, tang, sip, sweet, bitter, mineral-rich, impure, oily, gulp, coppery, swig, sharp, fishy, brackish, tart, brassy, stale, sharp, bite
Silken, smooth rocks, slippery, wet, chill, shock, soak, icy, warm, simmering, gritty, ticklish, sleek, cool, fluid, caressing, soothing, pulling, strength, powerful, brisk, jolt, stun, numbing, nip, freezing
--The words you choose can convey atmosphere and mood.
Example 1: I stumbled up the hill, my body baked as dry as the land I'd crossed. Flashes of liquid light winked through the trees ahead and my legs tremored. Cocking my head, I heard it at last: the gentle burble of salvation.
Example 2: As instructed in the stranger's note, I waited at the end of Rogan's Dock with only the moon above as company. Below me, the swollen spring waters churned against the pilings, fighting to escape into the flatland beyond the mountain. The boards beneath my feet groaned and I shifted uneasily. One misstep, and the darkness would swallow a man whole.
--Similes and metaphors create strong imagery when used sparingly.
Example 1: Long after the sun set, the frothing current swept past, dark as molasses. (Simile)
Example 2: The river was an angry dragon, snapping and thrashing its tail against the eroded banks. (Metaphor)