Setting Thesaurus Entry: Graveyard


Wrought iron fence & grave bordering, gates, a church, stone angels, headstones (marble, concrete, granite, in hues of white, black and greys) raised tombs, mausoleum, cordoned off family burial plots, grass, flower beds, flake flower arrangements, dried flowers, wreaths, mourners, caretakers, gravediggers, backhoe equipment (usually well hid from viewers and brought out during non-visiting hours), religious stone carvings, crosses, trees, damaged or weathered older headstones, tokens/trinkets of love on graves, framed portraits, funerals in process (priest, casket, groups of mourners, fresh flowers, bible, podium, graveyard workers close by, funeral procession, hearses), plaques with prayers, visitor benches, urns, monuments, (statues of children, angel wings, people praying, Jesus),birds, squirrels, chipmunks, decorative rock and stone, candles, debris in older cemeteries (leaves/twigs on graves, patchy or overgrown grass, dead trees & greenery, wild bushes or flowers, crumbling/cracked or vandalized masonry, crooked headstones from the ground settling, broken gates, moss, mildew, stone discoloration, cracked stone pathways, weeds and thistle)


People crying/sobbing, sniffing, people speaking in low voices, whispered prayers, the rustle of dead flowers being removed for fresh ones, maintenance crew working (pruning, grave care, lawn care), hearses pulling up, caskets being unloaded and transported to the grave site, graves being dug (after hours), a soft motorized hum as a grave is lowered, a fist full of dirt hitting the coffin, flowers dropping onto the coffin, extreme verbalized grief (wailing, moaning, inconsolable sobbing), a priest conducting the funeral or offering words of comfort, sweeping dead leaves off a grave marker, creaky gates, the wind whistling through the gravestones, birds, small animals, the slow click of shoes along a path, church bells, the tick of dead leaves across stone on windy days


cut grass, stone, newly turned earth, fresh flowers on graves, perfume/aftershave mingling on the air from other mourners, smells associated with seasons (crisp air in the winter, rain and rot in early spring or late fall, new growth of trees, plants, grass and flowers in the spring and summer)


Tears, the metallic tang of stone in the air, precipitation


The feel of chalky dust on a headstone on the fingers, swiping dead leaves off a grave marker, dead flowers crinkling in the hand as they are removed from vases and replaced with new ones, wiping at tears, holding close to another, pressing a cheek or forehead against cold stone, warmth at holding hands or squeezing someone's hand, the prickle of cut grass as you kneel or sit, reaching out to feel the silky petal of fresh flowers brought to the grave, pressing a Kleenex to the eyes or nose

Helpful hints:

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

Example 1:

The rain on my sister's grave site should've been a cliche, but somehow, it wasn't. It fell softly over the newly-turned soil, patting it down with gentle hands. A flutter startled me and turned into a whippoorwill, its tiny claws scratching at the stone. I breathed in the smell of dirt and rain and grass that would soon be growing. My sister would like this place.

Example 2:

As the moon rose, the graveyard of my ancestors transformed. The translucent light breathed life into the worn, faceless statues of praying children and winged angels. It smoothed away fissures and softened broken edges. In the moonlight, the crooked headstones stood proud, keeping to their duty even as time wore away the messages they bore. I walked through the tangled weeds until I reached the back gate and an empty plot. This space, beneath the bower of an old oak, was my own. How odd to stand here in the dewy grass, knowing someday I would not leave it.

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

Example 1: (Simile) Here and there, the gravestones leaned together like old friends.

Example 2: (Metaphor) The metal fence was crooked and dotted with rust, a blood-spattered sentinel scowling over its citizens.


Donna said...

I love graveyards, as morbid as that is. The older, the better. I live in New England so we have some old ones up here.

I have a request for a setting thesaurus. What about blight? Like a rotting Victorian building in the middle of a city or a barn looking like it's about to cave in on itself. You know what I mean?

And Angela, you need to read my review of City of Bones on my blog. I couldn't stop thinking of this site when I was reading that book. You'll see why . . .

Kelly said...

This is a cool, spooky one!

PJ Hoover said...

It's so funny how many places you pick I have as locations in my books!

Angela said...

Donna, I just read your blog--I agree, that example did make me think of us.

Thanks Kelly. I was actually going to do Police Station next, but the new book I'm writing has a graveyard scene coming up, so i wanted to be ready!

PJ, I guess we have a mental connection thing going on, lol. That, or I'm watching you. *cue psycho music*

Becca said...

I love graveyards, too. My husband thinks it's weird...

harvey said...

Nice resource here. I have an entry on the art of writing on my blog which you may find of interest. Cheers.

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much. This is useful for my graveyard scene!


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