Setting Entry: Swamp

Sight

Dripping trees with black trunks, rotting vegetation, scummy water, reeds, frogs, slugs, leeches, catfish, craw fish, beetles, spiders, snakes, flies, mosquitoes, gnats clouds, lizards, bats, algae, dead trees, quicksand, crocodiles, alligators, worms, rippling water, curling mist, moss hanging from tree branches, rotten dead fall, trees leaning over the water, muddy banks, slime coated rocks, gas bubbles rising to the surface, shadows

Sounds

Dripping water, splashes, the slurp of mud, frogs croaking, flies buzzing, the snap of twigs, the screech of animals/birds hunting and being hunted, heavy silence, the burp of trapped air breaking the surface

Smells

Decay, rot, briny algae, sweat, methane gas bubbles rising through the water

Tastes

Thick, stagnant air, dirt and mud mixed with sweat running into mouth, stale water from a canteen, food carried in

Touch

Sticky clothes from the hot & moist air, water seeping into boots, the chafe of wet clothing, algae, dead leave fragments and mud clumps sticking to wet skin, the bump of something in the water against the leg (a fish, dead fall, a snake, etc), a pole of wood clasped tight in the palm, used for testing the depth of water or the solidity of the ground, the sting of gnat or mosquito bites, the drip of sweat down the face, between the shoulder blades and along the sides of the body, the chill of cold water, a fluttery heartbeat at every sound and splash, the suck of mud against boots, cuts, scrapes and bruises from climbing through the dead fall, slimy moss on handholds (rocks, trees), pulling leeches off skin

Helpful hints:


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

Example 1:

Before each step, I probed the water with my yew walking stick. The murky water kept everything from view, both dangerous and benign. A sudden burst of air bubbles could be a submerged tree settling, or the rancid breath of an alligator on the hunt.

Example 2:

I slogged through the mud not knowing what was worse--the tension in my neck from listening to every drip and scrape, or the foul air that clung to every inch of my skin and filled my mouth with the taste of death.

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

Example 1: (Simile)

The leech's glossy black body had grown bloated from feeding on my thigh. Disgusted, I pulled at it, my fingers shaking at the task. The sound it made was almost a sigh, like the contentment of a fat uncle pulling away from the table after a Thanksgiving feast.

Example 2: (Metaphor)


As soon as I heard the splash, I scrambled into the nearest tree. Slimy bark provided a challenge for the treads on my boots, but I managed to make it to a creaky lower branch. I scanned the mist that clung to the surface of the water, watching as a slight trench disturbed the almost solid mass. Something was moving in the water, gently displacing the white curtain above it.

5 comments:

Bish Denham said...

Ooooo, swamps! There are also mangrove swamps which are a bit different from the kind you describe. There are lots and lots of roots from the mangrove trees and lots and lots of crabs. There is, along with that rotten egg smell, the slurp and burble of ocean water as it slips and slides through the tangle of roots.

As a kid my best friend and I played wonderful imaginary games in the mangroves. A perfect setting for high adventure against evil beings.

Angela said...

You played in the mangroves? Weren't you afriad of the gators and whatnot? [I would be SO afraid of em!]

I watched the episode of Man Vs Wild on the mangroves--it sure looked beautiful, but so difficult to traverse!

Thanks for the details, Bish!

Danyelle said...

This is so awesome! I'm going to be needing this very soon. Thanks for the list. :D

Bish Denham said...

No gators in the Caribbean. No snakes either. So aside from the possible broken ankle or leg...it was perfectly safe!

Mary Witzl said...

Love the alligator breath -- I can imagine that must be AWFUL, given alligator diet... My mother used to describe the sound leeches made when pulled from skin; you nailed it there. (Ewwww!)

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