Setting Thesaurus Entry: Cave


stone walls, dirt/stone floor, tree roots, dead leaves, twigs, trash, campfire remains, animal scat, fur, old bones, bears, mountain lions, raccoons, bats, rats, spiders, webs, insects, earthworms, stalactites hanging from ceiling, stalagmites protruding from floor, pools of water, underground rivers, bright sunlight at the entrance but diminishing to total darkness deeper into the cave, hieroglyphs/cave paintings, graffiti, water dripping down walls, lichen, moss, crumbling rock, bat guano, animal scat, mushrooms, cracks


wind whistling around stone, muffled sound of wind in trees outside, echoes, shoes shuffling over floor, skitter of animals, insects whirring, bat wings fluttering, water dripping or running, rustle of feet through detritus, crickets chirping, campfire crackling, click of flashlights, voices echoing, loose rock being kicked in the darkness, growls, rumbled breath of a slumbering animal, leaves rustling at the entrance, the squeak and chitter of small animals


Wet or cold stone, animal feces, decaying animals, animal musk, rotting vegetation, stale air, stagnant standing water, briny smell of slimy lichen, woodsmoke/food cooking (if there's a fire going)


Sweat, water, food cooked over a fire (trapped animals, fish, hot dogs--whatever the case) & drinks made or brought (tea, coffee, etc)


Bumpy/knobby/sharp stone, crumbling rock, jamming hands in fissures for handholds, slipping on a patch of wet rock, scraping against the wall, a fist of stone poking you in the back as you lean against a wall, bumping your head on a low ceiling, sweeping aside debris or loose rock, dust on the hands, running a fingertip along a vein of quartz or gemstone (gold, silver, turquoise, etc), walls wet with condensation, walking or swimming through a free standing pool or grotto, the splash of water, water dripping from cracks in the roof, cold wind or snow finding its way into the cave, bones or twigs crunching underfoot, scattering debris with a boot, cold stone floor against cheek during sleep

Helpful hints:--The words you choose can convey atmosphere and mood.

Example 1:

As I opened my mouth to call the all clear, something snapped. I froze, pressing myself against the cold, wet stone, my gaze flicking across the unyielding darkness of the cave. My stomach clenched at the unmistakable scratch of paws passing over debris and a snout snuffling the air, rooting for a foreign scent: me.

Example 2:

Ryma held his torch close to the stone, the orange tongues of fire lapping at drawings set down by his ancestors. Powerful strokes of henna depicted warriors with lynx fur mantles and stone spears, running the Great Hunt for Grandfather Bear. His throat grew thick. His father had stood here--his uncles, his grandfather. Had they looked upon this and reflected on what it was to become a man, to earn the right to a mantle, just as he now did?

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

Example 1: (Simile)

Wind shrieked through the hollows and gaps of the cave like banshees haunting a graveyard.

Example 2: (Metaphor)

This far from the entrance, the darkness was absolute, playing tricks on my sense of time and space. I reached out and placed a hand against the bumpy stone wall, an anchor in this void.

Emotion Thesaurus Addendum: Energetic

  • Sharpened senses
  • Difficulty focusing
  • Feeling twitchy
  • Believing that you can do anything
  • A gaze that flits from person to person or sweeps across a room, picking up all details
  • Nodding along as someone speaks
  • Cutting in, speaking over people
  • Chugging a drink
  • Whooping, smiling, cheering, shouting
  • Greeting others with gusto (shaking hands firmly, squeezing the arm)
  • Taking on a leadership role
  • Confident decision-making
  • A raised chin
  • Rapid speech

Book Trailers—One Step Further

Book trailers. Visual blurbs that give potential buyers a preview of the book. Great for promoting an upcoming new release, fairly easy to create. In case you have no idea what I'm talking about, a good example is Courtney Summer's trailer for her book Cracked Up To Be. Because we all (yes, every one of us) will be published someday and will need trailers for our bestsellers, I thought I'd take a closer look at Courtney's video to find out what makes a trailer good.

It's concise
The trailer for Cracked Up to Be is 1 minute, 20 seconds long. People who are interested in your novel don't want to sit through a ten-minute explanation. Include enough information to grab the potential reader's attention, and let it go. The average length of most book trailers is between 45 seconds and 2 minutes. Any longer than that and you risk losing your audience.

It's simple
Courtney's trailer consists of music, text, and slides. Though other elements are often used effectively (dialogue, actors, etc.), she keeps it simple, and the end result works. Whatever elements you choose to include, make sure they work together to get your point across. The viewer doesn't want to interpret fancy fonts or turn down the volume because the music is distracting. Remember that the story is the most important thing. Everything else is a means to that end and shouldn't detract from it.

It's professional
You can see the what-not-to-do's all over the internet: cheesy real-life actors performing the summary, accompaniment that was written by the author (who's also an aspiring singer), slides that look like they were created with WordArt. Typos. *shudder* If you're going to promote yourself with a trailer, make sure you put your best foot forward. A second-rate trailer is about as effective as a shoddy query letter.

It ends on a good note
Just like a novel, ending a trailer can be tricky. You don't want to tie everything up too nicely, or why would people bother buying the book? You also don't want it to end abruptly; clunky is not a word you want associated with your video. The last pre-credits line of Courtney's trailer asks the viewer: "What's the worst thing you've ever done?" What a great line! It summarizes the plot, leaves you thinking, and immediately ties the viewer to the main character, because we all have regrets. Who doesn't want to find out what this girl has done??

So good job, Courtney, and thanks for letting me reference your video. It's a great example of how to market your soon-to-be-published novel via a book trailer. But I have a question for the rest of us: why wait for your book to be accepted before you create one?

You see them all over YouTube: the singer performing an original song, the would-be dancer jazz-handing his way through his own choreographed number. A lot of these people are merely amusing, but some of them have gotten discovered, and all because they took advantage of the wonderful world of the Internet.

So once your book is ready to be read by the world at large, why not create a trailer to promote it? Make it professional. Post the trailer on your blog or website. Include the link in query letters so agents and publishers can get an extra inkling about your book. It seems like an underutilized marketing tool for those shopping around their work. As someone who would love to see all of her friends published, I pose the question: Why not? What's keeping you from creating a trailer for your ready-to-shop book right now?

Books by our Followers

All of us know the determination it takes to walk the Writer's Path. Becca and I feel privileged to have met so many wonderful personalities through The Bookshelf Muse, and when you succeed, we feel it too!

Please take a moment to check out these wonderful books from some of our Followers:

Chosen Sister (YA fantasy, 2009)

Author: Ardyth DeBruyn

Reina's brother is declared the Child Warrior at age six—despite the fact he's scared of the dark and everything else as well. Can Reina help him survive an incompetent wizard mentor, a prophecy too obscure to understand, and a horde of evil monsters out to kill them?

Blood Brothers (Mystery/Realistic fiction, 2007)

Author: S. A. Harazin

With his best friend on life-support after taking drugs at a party, seventeen-year-old Clay, a medical technician, recalls their long friendship, future plans, and recent disagreement, and tries to figure out who is responsible for the accidental overdose.

The Emerald Tablet: The Forgotten Worlds Book 1 (Middle Grade Fantasy/Sci-fi, 2008)

Author: P.J. Hoover

Benjamin Holt is looking at eight weeks of summer school someplace which can only be reached by a teleporter inside the ugly picture in his hallway. And that's the most normal thing he does all summer.

ACADIAN STAR (middle grade fiction, 2008)

Author: Hélène Boudreau

Two girls preparing for the Acadian Star competition…a sudden trip through time…a friendship strong enough to change the past.

SILVER PHOENIX : Beyond the Kingdom of Xia (Asian YA Fantasy, Upcoming,May 2009)

Author: Cindy Pon

When Ai Ling leaves home to find her father, she has no inkling she begins the journey to complete a task promised by her former incarnation.


Well just look at all these great books, all written by people who started with an idea and a dream and had the perseverence to see it through. It gives me hope, you know? I can't wait to read these, and I hope you will too.

Are you a Bookshelf Muse Follower with a book to share? If so, please let us know--we'd love to add you to the list.

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.

Emotion Thesaurus Addendum: Desire

  • Obsessive thoughts
  • Trying not to think of the object
  • Finding ways to be near the object
  • Loss of appetite
  • A nervous hitch in the voice
  • Shedding bad habits that stand in the way
  • A physical ache at the need to have or be with the desire
  • Creative wooing (poetry, sentimentality, meaningful gifts)
  • Striving to prove one's worth
  • A fluttering stomach
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • A touch that lingers
  • A deep gaze, communicating need with the eyes
Good news! This sample has been expanded and streamlined into book form! The full list of physical, internal, and mental cues for this and 74 other emotions can be found in The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Expression, available for purchase at AmazonBarnes & NobleiTunes, and Smashwords. The PDF is also downloadable via the Paypal button in the sidebar. 

Opportunity for Published Bookshelf Muse Followers

Hi everyone!

Becca and I are very proud of what our Musers have accomplished and want to share it with visitors! What we hope to do is create a link in our sidebar for a post containing all the latest books by our wonderful followers.

If you would like your book featured in this post, please email me the following information:

A link to where your book can be purchased

A 1-2 sentence book blurb to go with it

Include the Genre, Title and Release Year

Your blog handle (username)

Although Becca and I write for Children's/YA, we understand our Followers may not. If your book is for adults, feel free to send it on as long as it does not contain Erotica.

Please note this opportunity is for Followers of The Bookshelf Muse. If you are not yet a Follower, you can become one by clicking the link in the sidebar.

No Publish America or Vanity Published works, please.

Setting Thesaurus Entry: High School Hallway


Lockers, scuffed floors, trophy case, fire extinguishers, doors, lockers, plaques, student art work or sculptures, school pictures, school colors, framed school jacket or flag, garbage cans, discarded gum wrappers, broken pencils, forgotten erasers, crumpled papers ringing the garbage cans, spills and stains, janitors, teachers, principal, students, people sitting in the halls, laughing studying, piles of books or backpacks resting on the floor, signs to office, exits, handmade student posters for pep rallies/dances/games, some small graffiti carved into door frames or markers in more hidden places, locks on lockers, papers or shoelaces caught in locker doors, people texting and trying to hide it from adult eyes, people yawning


Shoes squeaking on floor, echoes, talking, laughing, the clink of locks being opened, doors slamming, people being jostled into lockers, teachers ordering kids to settle down, disperse or get to class, bell for class, announcements on the speaker, muffled ipod music, phones going off and quickly silenced, coughing, sneezing


Perfume, deodorant, aftershave, hairspray, sweat, gym clothes, nasty-stuff-in-a locker-close-by smell, minty breath, cigarette smoke coming off clothing & hair, cleaning supplies, sweaty gym clothes, food odors from the cafeteria or student kitchen, marker smells from newly-hung posters, photocopied odor of just-printed fliers


Food, sweets (candy, chocolate, gum, mints), fizzy pop or energy drinks, bitter or sweet coffee, water, mouthwash, metallic braces, dust, just-waking-up-from-falling-asleep-in-history taste


cold metal lockers, swirling the dial of a lock, smooth paper or binders being transferred from the locker to hand, the press of a textbook against the chest or at the hip, cold metal doorknobs, sweaty hands, chewing on a pencil, tapping a pen against lip, writing a phone number on the hand before class, crunching up a paper and tossing it into the trash, the pull of a backpack on the shoulder, flicking long hair back over shoulder, combing fingers through the hair before class, spreading on a coat of lip gloss in a locker mirror, shedding 'home' clothing to reveal 'school' clothing, feet shuffling with dread toward class

Helpful hints:

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

Example 1:

I strode out my office into the hall, inhaling the tell-tale scent of bleach and pine sol. Sun streamed through the glass front doors, gleaming off the freshly buffed floors. Rows of lockers stood like proud sentinels, displaying their uniforms of fresh paint. I smiled. Everything was as it should be. Soon, summer would end. Soon, the halls would be filled with young minds eager to learn.

Example 2:

"Hello?" I called, eyeing the dark corridor. My voice sounded hollow and weak in the emptiness. No one responded, but then I doubted there was anyone around other than the janitor who'd let me in. I made my way toward my locker, my steps quick and soundless. Gloom spilled out from a classroom doorway to my left, and I edged over to the right. This place sure turned El Creepo at night. I wanted to grab my chem assignment and get out of here.

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

Example 1: (Simile) I snapped my locker shut but it echoed through the empty halls, making me jump. It was creepy after hours, this place--more like a funeral home than a school.

Example 2: (Metaphor) The final bell rang, filling the hallway with students: hormoned-fueled cars rolling down the Weekend Freeway at high speeds.

Emotion Thesaurus Addendum: Pain (Physical)

  • Probing the pained area and wincing
  • Hobbling about, taking tentative steps
  • Breaths that shudder
  • Leaning back and grimacing
  • Expelling a grunt or pained hiss at exertion
  • Medicating
  • Trying to sleep it off
  • Short-temperedness
  • Fainting or blacking out
  • Trembling limbs
  • Pale, blotchy skin
  • Glassy eyes
  • Feeling cold or feverish
  • Biting the lip
  • Distracting gestures (flapping a hand, tapping a foot, nodding one's head)

Good news! This sample has been expanded and streamlined into a free downloadable PDF! The full list of physical, internal, and mental cues for this and 14 other entries can be found in Emotion AmplifiersJust click the Free Download button in the sidebar to receive your own copy of this companion to The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer's Guide to Character Expression

Finding Voice...Literally

*squee* I was out stumbling around the blogosphere and I found


Let me break it down for you. Finding this discussion was the equivalent of going for a walk after a rain and having a leprechaun jump out and offer up a pot of gold. No chasing him for miles through the mud, no threats to hand it over or else, just BOOM, here's your gold and have a nice day.

This post offers some serious goodies for writers in the comment section, namely an open, frank conversation on what voice is, what it isn't and how to find it.

One commenter suggests that the writers' voices you enjoy most are likely the ones closest to your OWN voice, and the reason you're drawn to their work in the first place. Another talks about how important it is to not censor yourself, or hold back because of rules or the market or anything else--to write the same way you think. This reminded me a bit of the post I did eons ago on RISK.

If you struggle with voice at all, make the time to read this. I'll say it again, People--THE COMMENT SECTION IS PURE GOLD.

My 2009 Word...Finally!

Over at ROOTS IN MYTH, I found out about this neato idea to start the year off with a focus word to help keep me on track and to inspire me to reach my writing goals. I've been thinking about it long and hard, trying on words and seeing what feels right for me. Then today, sweating at the gym on the stepper machine, it hit me--the perfect word.


The why is simple. This year, I want to amaze myself. I want to look back at the end of 2009 and feel thrilled at what I've accomplished, at how hard I worked, pushing to meet or exceed expectations. I want to amaze through my quality of writing, my creativity and my stamina. This really will be a 'push' sort of year for me, I believe.

I'm going to put this word at my desk as my focus. How about you? Do you have a word for 2009 yet?

Setting Thesaurus: Jungle/Rainforest


Vines, ferns, lush foliage, tall trees (traveller's fan, Heliconia, trumpet trees, cahoon), dense undergrowth, fronds, lagoons, cliffs, rocky outcropping, downed trees, canopy blocking the sun, mosses, creepers, water vines, brown dead fall, mud, lizards, snakes, frogs, bugs, army ants, puma, baboons, gorillas, howler monkeys, tigers, boars, bamboo, waterfalls, creeks, lichen, banana trees, breadfruit, fig trees, taro, plant pods, spiders, leeches, bats, moths, twisting tree roots, cashew trees, praying mantis, iguanas, mosquitoes, scorpions, beetles, birds, termite nests (growths on trees), leaf cutter ants, toads, pineapple bushes, thorns, very few flowers, shiny leaves of all sizes, shapes and shades of green, rain, pooling water on leaves, swamp areas, rivers, fungi, natural breaks in vegetation or game trails, dripping water, hanging moss, twisting ropes of vines choking tree trunks, small clearings, brief flashes of sunlight or sky, trees growing on the sides of cliffs, vines winding down cliffs or crevices, rotting vegetation


bird calls, wings fluttering, monkey hoots/shrieks, animal movements (growls, grunts, snorts, paws hitting the ground, slithering, hissing, animal cries), running water (rushing creaks, waterfalls, rivers, streams or rain clattering off the leaves), one's own heavy breathing, leaves sliding past as you move, snapping through undergrowth, trees creaking, insects buzzing


stuffy & warm air, rotting vegetation, body odor, natural plant smells (sweet to attract insects/pollinators, bitter to ward them off), animal musk, flowers (few in the jungle--more in the rainforest)


Water, air thick on the tongue, edible leaves and root or fruits, prey caught and cooked over a fire (gamy, stringy, chewy, rubbery), stale breath, fresh rain


Slippery leaves, rough vines, crumbly wet ground underfoot in places, branches crackling, holding branches back, squeezing through a stand of bamboo & feeling the smooth wood against the chest and back, sweat running down the neck and face, slurping dew off a leaf, a jarring thwack resistance of a machete blade as you cut through difficult passages, spongy moss, cold water running over boots as you cross a creek, the rough burn of vines against the palm if you use them to climb, the bite of an insect, stings, splinters, scratching branches or spiny leaves, rain splattering down on the crown of your head, soaking you through instantly, dirt against the skin, leaves slapping against skin, swatting bugs away, feet hot & damp in their boots, grit under nails, plunging into a pool of water, the mist spray of a waterfall

Helpful hints:

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

Example 1:

Dusk stained the glistening foliage with shadow and murk. As nightfall descended, the sounds of the jungle began to ebb. Uncertainty hung in the warm, wet air as the creatures began to prepare for the long stretch of darkness. Soon new sounds emerged: footfalls and the rumbling growls of predators walking their hunting ground.

Example 2:

I capped my lens and glanced up. Where had everyone gotten to?

"Hannah?" I called, peering between the thick, vine-choked trunks and the reaching leaves for the tour guide. Unbroken jungle stared back at me, giving no clues as to the path she and the rest of the group had taken. My camera weighed heavy from the strap at my neck. I'd only stopped for a moment, hadn't I? Yes, just long enough to get a shot of that iguana for my oldest. Then I spotted that branch with the line of leaf-cutter ants, but still...

I called again, louder, sharper, first trying Hannah's name, then throwing out those I could remember from the tour group. Someone would answer. They had to.

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

Example 1: (Simile)

Vines slithered down the cliff face like snakes, seeking the pool of tepid water below.

Example 2: (Metaphor)

Lush vegetation trapped my movement, a huge web of slapping leaves, tripping vines and bamboo obstacles.

Emotion Thesaurus Addendum: Hunger

  • An empty, floaty feeling in the belly
  • The stomach twisting into knots
  • Gurgling in the belly
  • Dry mouth
  • An over-sensitive sense of smell
  • Quick salivation at the sight or scent of food
  • Obsessing about food
  • Shaking hands
  • Lightheadedness
  • Lethargy
  • Openly watching others eat
  • Swallowing often
  • Impulse buying when it comes to food
Good news! This sample has been expanded and streamlined into a free downloadable PDF! The full list of physical, internal, and mental cues for this and 14 other entries can be found in Emotion AmplifiersJust click the Free Download button in the sidebar to receive your own copy of this companion to The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer's Guide to Character Expression

Look Before You Leap...

I'll be straight--I'm not a fan of New Year Resolutions. They are usually spawned from feelings of failure or guilt, and let's face it, as soon as one leaves the lips, it's probably doomed to failure. Instead I use this moment on the shoreline of 2009 for reflection: where am I now, and what do I want for myself moving forward?

Here in Canada, the brisk air and falling snow is a perfect match for how I feel about the new year: an untouched landscape of white, full of potential and endless possibility. It's an exciting time --a beginning-- when each step is fresh and each choice is unbound by previous decisions. This is a powerful moment of the year, and an excellent time for us writers to imagine the future and where we want to go.

So, writing-wise, what are your hopes for the coming months? Do you have ideas brewing for new novels, areas to work on or styles to experiment with? Goals are great motivators, provided we can get excited about them and they're within the sphere of doability. Not only do they give us direction and focus, they serve as reminders when small things crop up and force us to take a detour or two.

On my end of things, I would like to see me complete a half-finished book, Wrath of a God, as well as a new book I've been chewing on. 2008 was clogged with revisions, and while I wouldn't go back and change that as it was necessary, I found it really drained my creative spirit. I want to rekindle some of the excitement of writing, and really push to get some new works finished.

Another thing I would like to work on is being more productive and organized. I don't know it if was simply burn out from all that revision, but I became quite the procrastinator toward the end of 2008. I want to push myself harder--it will be better for me spiritually and writing-wise.

Lastly, I want to make more time to read. Reading is such a pleasure that I often feel guilt at taking time to do it. It's silly and something I'm battling, so I want to continue working on it this coming year.

Anyone else willing to share their writing path for 2009? :-)

Setting Description Entry: Urban Street

cars, trucks, SUVs, bicycles, delivery trucks, pedestrians, homeless people, stray dogs, pavement, reflectors, sidewalks, cigarette butts on the ground, litter, broken glass, concrete medians, street lights, small trees with fences around them, street signs, billboards, stores, restaurants, gas stations, banks, glass windows, office buildings, skyscrapers, apartment buildings, basketball courts, schools, chained-down garbage cans, flashing crosswalk signs, dingy alleys, dumpsters, chainlink fences, corner food vendors, windows/doors with bars on them, sun shining off of car windows and mirrors, potholes

honking, tires screeching, alarms going off, cars speeding by or slowing down, wheels bumping over reflectors, shoes clacking/slapping against pavement, whirr of bicycle tires, voices talking/shouting/laughing, cell phones ringing, car doors slamming, store doors scraping open, music from cars and shops, wind whistling between buildings, children yelling from schoolyards, thump of basketballs, rattle of fences, muffled voices from fast-food drive-throughs, tinkle of broken glass

exhaust, gas fumes, rubber, hot pavement, cigarette smoke, garbage, urine, food smells from restaurants and corner vendors, sweat, incense/potpourri/fragrance from nearby shops, sewage, old water in rain puddles

foods: hot dogs/pretzels/soda/hamburgers/french fries/bottled water, smoky exhaust, bitter cigarettes, paper butts, soda straws, sweat, rain

gritty pavement, heat coming off the concrete, slap of shoes against sidewalk, sweat trickling, breeze blowing your hair/clothes, metallic fence under your fingers, wind from passing cars, uneven sidewalk, brick/stucco/concrete buildings, cold doorknobs, smooth cell phone in your hand, splashing water from passing cars, drizzle of rain, jarring feel as tire hits a pothole

Helpful hints:--The words you choose can convey atmosphere and mood.

Example 1: Snow dusted the gutters and the trash they contained with a humpy white blanket. It drifted down from the street lights--I swear, it jingled as it fell. Gone were the gasoline and greasy food smells; the air tasted clean, as if it had just been loosed upon the world.

Example 2: I hurried along the sidewalk, my keys pinching my palm. The wind slapped my cheeks with the scent of rusted metal and rotting take-out. Something skittered over my shoe and raced into the alley, taking my breath with it. I swore under my breath, wishing I hadn't been so cheap. Next time, I'd pay to park in the garage.

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

Example 1: (Simile) Music concussed from one vehicle after another like warring DJs in a night club.

Example 2: (Metaphor) Falafels, hot dogs, pretzels with mustard: when had Fifth Avenue turned into the State Fair?


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