CTS Entry: Foamy/Spongy


Natural:

Wet (foamy)

Waves hitting the shore
Spittle bugs (foam on plants)
Fresh cows milk
White caps or breakers
Scum on ponds
Fish egg clusters
Betta fish bubble nests
Bubbles trapped in water
Saliva

Dry (spongy)

Sea sponge
Poodle fur
Seed pod fluff (trees, plants)
Moss
Mushrooms
Fungus
Forest floor (undergrowth)
Dry lichen
Lush grass
Fruit pith (oranges, pomegranates)
Rotten wood


Man-made:

Wet (Foamy)

Root bear foam
Beer foam
Bubble bath
Hot tub bubbles
Shampoo lather
Spray cleaners
Fake spray snow for windows
Whipped cream
Mousse
Latte/cappuccino foam

Dry (spongy)

Fiberglass insulation
Bread
Tofu
Cleaning sponges
Foam finger wavers at sporting events
Gym mats
Styrofoam
Memory foam mattresses
Bubble wrap
Pillows
Twinkies
Doughnuts
Cake
Scrambled eggs
Bath mats
Pancakes
Dried apple slices

Synonyms:

Foamy: frothy, sudsy, bubbly, lather, yeasty, whipped, spume

Spongy: springy, peaty, porous, airy, fluffy, cushioned

Describing texture in a story creates intimacy between reader and character, and can even cause an emotional trigger for both. To anchor the reader in the scene, make sure comparisons and contrasts are clear and relatable, and within the scope of the narrator's life knowledge and experience.

A weak example:

Off the trail I lay back on the thick, springy moss to look up at the tree tops, squirming to find a spot where a tree root isn't poking through nature's mattress.

What's wrong with this example?

There's conflicting detail happening here--the moss is described as thick and springy suggesting comfort, then the image is ruined by tree roots poking through the undergrowth. If the moss was truly thick as suggested, roots would not be felt to the extent that it would be discomforting.

A strong example:

I find a spot off the main trail and lay back on the thick, springy moss to look up at the tree tops. Even the well established cedar roots cannot breach nature's mattress.

Why does this example work?

The details here support one another--the roots are there, but are not bothersome due to the thickness of the moss.


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Setting Thesaurus Entry: Grocery Store

Sight

Isles of shelving, bright florescent lighting, end displays of popular products (soup cans, chips, BBQ sauce, cereal, etc), sale signs, banners with store mottoes ("Freshness guaranteed" or "Shop and Save!" etc), isle signs stating product location, rows and rows of household products (toilet tissue, cleaners, dish washing liquid, bleach, laundry soap, etc), canned food (soup, tuna, beans, tomatoes, etc), boxes and bagged goods (Kraft dinner, rice mixes, chips, sugar, flour, cereal, etc), check stand bags, check out, grocery belt, cash registers, managers walking around, sample stations, cashiers ringing in purchases, bag boys hauling or bagging groceries, a steam cleaning rental stand, newspapers ad books near checkout, display of impulse items: gum, candy, chocolate bars, batteries, mints, etc), lots of big glass windows along the front of the store, customer service booth, Bank machine, lotto center, rows of coin-fed grocery carts, stacks of shopping baskets, flower department: ready made bouquets, houseplants and tropicals, foil balloons, potting soil, fertilizers for house plants, dried arrangements, silk arrangements, decorative pots Bakery department: showcases of cakes, cupcakes, cookies, brownies, doughnuts, bins of bulk bagels and buns, shelves with bread, buns, pita breads, flat breads, hot dog and hamburger buns, dough machines, bakery ovens, gleaming stainless steel counters Deli department: glass showcases of all different types of ham, salami, baloney, chicken, turkey, etc, fresh made sandwiches, salads, deli meat and cheese trays, specialty olive bar, whole chickens roasting in ovens, stainless steel counters, scale, meat slicers, plastic bags, price tags Meat department: long open coolers with meat sections for beef, chicken, pork and sometimes seafood Frozen Food Department: Closed door cases filled with frozen pizzas, ice cream, convenience foods (french fries, froze dinners, chicken wings, pie crusts, juice cans, etc) Produce Department: slanted displays of apples, oranges, melons, tomatoes, peppers (green, yellow, red) squashes, carrots, celery, broccoli, mushrooms, etc, bins of potatoes, sprayers for lettuce, rolls of plastic produce bags, twist ties, price and weight signs on stands, scales, boxes of bulk seasonal fruit (plums, peaches, mangoes, apples, oranges, etc) Bulk department: small square bins of dried fruits, nuts, grains, dried beans and peas, candies, baking supplies (chocolate chips, sugar, baking powder, etc)

Sounds

Background music on speakers (usually an easy listening radio station), rattle of bags, cashiers calling for price checks, the bleep of items being scanned at checkouts, squeaky cart wheels, the whoosh of air conditioning and electronic doors opening and closing, Tearing a bag off the roll for produce or bulk foods, phones ringing, the thump of setting cans, boxes of pop and other heavy items on the conveyor belt, the rip of coupons being torn out of the flyer at the checkout, kids whining, begging, crying when shopping trips go on too long, people talking on cel phones as they shop

Smells

Fresh baked bread goods (yeasty & buttery or spices: cinnamon, ginger, savories, etc), roasting chickens (spices and char), a sweet aroma coming off fresh ripe fruit, air conditioning, sample stations serving up toasted/fried appetizer type foods or sausage, detergent and cleaners on the household isle, a papery smell from all the cardboard boxes, a metallic smell from the cold metal & frost in the frozen department, spices from the spice section, cleaning products, rot from fruit or veggies that have gone bad but haven't been disposed of by staff yet

Tastes

samples from sample booths (sausage, cinnamon buns or other sweets, appetizer foods in pastries, drink samples), opening a bag of chips or crackers to snack on as you shop or at the cash out, gum, mints, candies, coffee brought to the store

Touch

The cold metal carts, squeezing a loaf of bread, the papery smoothness of a potato or pear, checking for brown spots or bruises, bringing a pineapple up to the nose to smell, squeezing fruit, icy cold against the palms and fingers as you grab a bag of frozen corn, cold breath on the face as you open a frozen food case, rubbing at a tickling in the nose from too many scents in the fabric softener/room freshener isle, plunking cans into the cart, pushing a heavy cart, shoving the cart to maneuver corners, Stuffing a frilly vegetable into a bag (carrot tops, cilantro, parsley or lettuce), wet hands from recently sprayed produce, pulling at stacked meat trays to get them to unstick from each other to find a good cut or amount, turning boxes around on the shelf to read the ingredients, punching in numbers for your debit pin, placing a hand on a cool display case, sorting through mushrooms, apples, grape bags, etc. Crinkling cellophane bags as you search bagged salads for rot

Helpful hints:


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

Example 1:

Hell in the grocery store world is the candy isle. It doesn't matter what time it is, opening or closing, invariably I will wheel my overflowing cart through the colorful containers of licorice and jelly beans, gritting my teeth as I listen to the hysterical wailing of a toddler bent on having that big bag of gummy bears. It's almost enough to put me off sugar, and definitely enough to put me off ever having kids.

Example 2:


Most people hate grocery day, but not me. For a good hour and a half I get to leave the kids with their dad and prowl the isles in search of bargains and new products to make my life easier. I never rush the experience--the soft, soothing oldies station is a balm to my ears with its lack of Barney sing-songs and Doddle Bops tracks and my brief exchange with the cashier might be the only adult conversation I get the whole week.

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

Example 1: (Simile)

After I finish loading the last stack of frozen Weight Watcher meals onto the conveyor belt, the colorful display of chocolate bars beside the checkout draws my eye like a hundred banners saying, Go ahead! Cheat! Cheat!


Example 2: (Metaphor)

A good inch of frost coated the container, making it impossible to tell if it was an ice cream tub, or saber-tooth skull predating the Ice Age.


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CTS Entry: Orange


Real World Comparisons:

Light:

Peach
Salmon
Nectarines
Yam
Apricot
Cantaloupe
Cheese slice
Persimmons
Coral
Cheese whiz
Cheese slices

Medium:

Mango
Oranges
Bird of paradise
Traffic cones
Pumpkins
Carrot
Orange bell pepper
Goldfish
Prison overalls
Oranges
Crush pop
Tiger
Tangerine
Zesty cheese chips
Cheetos
Clown fish
Lava
hot coals
Cheddar cheese
Tang

Dark:

Sunsets
Robin's breast
Sweet potato
Flames
Orange tabby cat
Fall leaves
Blood orange
Lion's mane
Terra Cotta
Irish setter
Garfield the cat
Pennies
Weak orange pekoe
Amber
Fake tans from creams
Monarch butterfly

Shades of Orange:

carrot, coral, peach, salmon, tangerine, ocher, copper

Make every detail count

Colors are powerful descriptors, not fillers. Make sure that if you use a comparison or contrast to highlight a color, you choose the right one. Look at the setting and atmosphere you are working to create, then draw from the viewpoint character or narrator's history, education and past experiences to find the right fit.

A poor example:

Most women with a Madonna-esque body would have no trouble finding plenty of dance partners during the wedding reception, but not my friend Wendy. Her rubbery neon orange dress clings to her so tightly that she looks like a cheese slice sealed in for freshness. And that hairdo? Beehives were cool when, like forty years ago?

What's wrong with this example?

At first glance this seems like it has some great comparisons. The issue is though, the POV character is trying to show how her friend Wendy is a turn off to guys, and let's face it, with a rockin' body & a super tight dress, she'd be reeling them in. So, some good imagery here, but the wrong kind to make the reader believe in the overall image.

A strong example:

Most women with a Madonna-esque body would have no trouble finding plenty of dance partners during the wedding reception, but not my friend Wendy. Between her rubbery neon orange dress and her carrot-colored beehive hairdo, she looks more like a traffic cone that datable material.

Why is this example better?

This sounds much more like a fashion nightmare, so we can buy the idea that she would be a turn off to guys, despite a good body.


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Setting Thesaurus Entry: Public Pool (outdoor)

Sight

Sun dappled water, kids splashing, swimming, waving, jumping, dunking, diving, plugging their nose, adjusting goggles, slapping at the water with pool noodles, paddling, kicking their feet, spitting out water, swiping wet hair off the face, wiggling a finger in the ear, adjusting swim suits, kids with red eyes, water wings, nose plugs, bathing caps, band aids and hair ties floating in the water, wet towels, piles of clothing, lockers, benches, lawn chairs, picnic blankets, towels laid out on grass or cement, a concession, trees, grassy area, showers, bathrooms, floaty toys, babies in wide hats, sunglasses and floaty seats, mothers corralling kids or throwing diving sticks, water slides, mothers sitting on the side with their feet dangling in the water, a first aid station, life preservers, life jackets, balls, life guards, life guard booth, diving board, puddles of water, wet cement, flies, bugs, sunshine, sun screen, bug spray, beach umbrellas, back packs, water toys, water guns, foam footballs, water level markings, deep end divider, vents, drains, filters, sandals, flip-flops, teen boys showing off, teen girls with raccoon eyes.

Sounds

Laughing, shrieking, calling out to one another, shouts, gasps for air, stuttering voices as you catch your breath, moms yelling at their kids, life guard whistle, leaves rustling, water splashing and sploshing, the spray of a shower snapping on and off, belly flops, feet slapping the wet concrete, plunging dives, scavenger birds squawking as they steal food left on blankets, waterlogged noises from plugged ears, coughing/choking from swallowing water, the crinkle of chip bags and ice cream wrappers, cell phones going off, music from radios or over a loudspeaker

Smells

Chlorine, sunscreen (coconut/oily/fruity), bug spray, oil and grease from fries at the concession, grass, suntan lotion, fabric softener from clean towels

Tastes

Concession food: (Pop, juice, water, freezies, slushes, ice cream, chips, nachos, fries, hot dogs, chocolate bars), gum, mints, sandwiches, fruit or berries, chlorinated water, sunscreen leaking into mouth,

Touch

Gritty concrete underfoot, slippery tiles, soft, cool water, water drizzling down face and legs, drips of water landing on the feet, hot walkways, clean towels rubbing against the skin, prickly grass sticking to swimsuit and skin, snakes of hair clinging to neck and shoulders, sweeping hair out of eyes, the pinch of goggles, grabbing onto the handrails to boost yourself up, the drag and pull of the water, chlorine stinging in the eyes, wrinkly fingertips and toes, hot sun drying wet skin, plucking out a wedgie, sunburn on skin, holding an icy drink, brushing chip crumbs off a swim suit, bumping against other swimmers, brushing the sides of the pool, tying back wet hair,

Helpful hints:


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

Example 1:

After pulling myself out of the pool, I plodded across the gritty cement to where my crumpled towel lay. Water dripped off me like a rainstorm as I bent to shake grass off the striped fabric. A few minutes lying in the sun and I'd be dry enough to bike home.

Example 2:

Marcus waved from the far end of the pool, trying to catch Edward's attention. Finally the blond haired boy noticed his flapping arms and threw the purple foam football toward him. It landed with a splash two feet away, drenching an old guy so hairy he looked like a yeti's second cousin. Marcus swiped up the football floating on the surface and then snapped a quick toss back, sending the torpedo to its owner.

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

Example 1: (Simile)

Brady dove under the water after the dive stick, his feet propelling him forward like a submarine at full speed.

Example 2: (Metaphor)

The two-year-old sputtered and kicked in her blow up water chair, a determined tug boat straining to explore the shallow waters.


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CTS Entry: Triangular

Natural:
Shark's teeth
Mountain formations
Bird beaks
Funnel cloud
Nose
Moth wings/butterfly wings
Wild mushroom caps
Tree fungus
Shark fin/dorsal fin
Spruce Tree
Lizard/snake head
Some leaves/petals
Ears (fox, wolf, dog, cat, etc)
Migrating ducks in flight
Snout
Thorns

Man-made:

Candy corn
Yield signs
The pyramids
Martini glasses
Slices of pie, cake, pizza, etc.
Bikini bottom
Folded napkin
Pennants
Pool ball rack
Arrowhead
Key stone
Pup tent
A-frame house
Diamond cut
Triangle (musical instrument)
Ice cream cone
Cowboy kerchief
Coat hanger
Door stopper
Sandal heel
Doritos
Sawhorse
Rewind, play & fast forward symbols
Straw broom
Road hazard cone
Capital A
Top of milk cartons
Toblerone chocolate bar
Church steeples
Paper airplane
Basic kite
Sail boat
Tea sandwiches

Synonyms: Wedge, pennant, quoin, beaked

Describing a shape is best done in as few words as possible. Think of the shape as a camera snap shot--you want to capture the gist of what you mean as soon as possible so you can get on with other related (and more important) detail, and the action happening in the scene

A weak example:

The sun blocked out as Fat Joe bumbled up, holding a hot dog in each hand, a nasty red burn branding his chest. Oh if only the mob boss could see him here at the beach, his tiny wedge of a Speedo hiding beneath his sprawling gut like a piece of candy corn. "Hey Tony, extra onions, just like you asked," he says, waving one of the foil-wrapped dogs at me.

What's wrong with this example?

Candy corn doesn't scream mobster--it screams pedophile.

A strong example:

The sun blocked out as Fat Joe bumbled up, holding a hot dog in each hand, a nasty red burn branding his chest. Oh if only the mob boss could see him here at the beach, with his wedge of a Speedo hiding beneath a sprawling gut like a slice of old pizza trapped under a sofa cushion. "Hey Tony, extra onions, just like you asked," he says, waving one of the foil wrapped dogs at me.

Why does this work?

Old pizza is a much better comparison, both in content, the size and the image it brings about.


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Rejection Netiquette


Let's face it, rejection isn't the fun part of writing. No one wants to find one lurking in the Inbox, or hiding among the bills and leaflets. A tough rejection can turn a good day into a bad one, and a bad day into something that makes us actually look forward to the 2012 Apocalypse.

Rejection is the Dark Side of writing.

In the age of social networks, the ability to purge ourselves of our frustration, anger and hurt over a rejection can be achieved with a few short clicks. Now more than ever, it's easy to connect with others, sharing details and commiserating. A little crying, a little fist-shaking and we can get on with the day. The question is, should we?

Let's look at the pros and cons.

Say you blog about your latest rejection. Here's the pros:

--It helps you feel better.
--The writing process is cathartic.
--You connect with your readership, who are in the same boat.
--Your readers can offer words of encouragement in the comments, providing you with a much-needed pick me up.

And here's the cons:

--Emotions can affect judgment. You might be too candid or worse, be rude or disrespectful to the person or publishing house that rejected you.
--Voicing your frustrations can sound whiny or sour grape-ish.
--You're announcing the fact that you've been rejected! Anyone can read about it, including the eds and agents you've submitted to who are still interested in your work. What will happen to their interest level when they go to check out your web presence and a couple of clicks shows them just how many places have rejected the MS they are now reading?
--It can be viewed as unprofessional. I know, some people might disagree because rejection is a part of the process, but if you are seriously working toward publication, you should always be aware of those who might be among your online audience. Editors and Agents expect you to be able to take rejection or criticism and still remain professional. Six paragraphs of DIE EDITOR DIE isn't going to endear you to anyone in the business except other frustrated writers.

Bottom line: when you're out in public, make sure you're pants are on.
Blogs, Tweets, Status Updates, etc are all ways for agents, editors and booksellers to find out more about you and your working style. Be aware of who might be reading about your writing journey--the ups, and the downs.

Setting Thesaurus Entry: Old Pickup Truck

Sight

cracked/pitted windshield, dusty and faded dashboard, broken window cranks, muddy floor mats, scuffed interior, dial radio knobs, cassette player, broken radio, broken AC or heat, dusty vets, trash on the floor (hamburger wrappers, big gulp cups, coffee take out cups, chocolate bar wrappers, donuts boxes, etc), tissue box, maps, glove box that won't open or won't lock, ripped or worn patches in the seats, stuffing falling out, metal thermos for coffee, crumpled up tissues on the floor, back seat covered with tools, gear, junk, newspapers, etc, wedge-tilt mini windows by side mirrors, memento hanging from the rear view mirror that gives insight into the truck's owner (garter belt, beads, rosary, religious figure, tree shaped air freshener, baby shoes etc) broken hood ornament, dirty running boards, rust sores on the frame, rust ring or patch over the gas tank flap, scratches, dents, scuffs, rusted wheel wells, bald or mismatched tires, uneven bumper, missing side mirror, sliding back window, pick up box with a loose tailgate and a collection of tool boxes, road salt, sandbags, gravel bags, ropes, hay bale or trash inside, broken tail lights, oil leaking onto the ground where it sits, colored tape over tail lights, broken signal, rusty muffler, white or dark gray exhaust sputtering out the tail pipe, crooked radio antenna, ash trays filled with cigarette butts or crumpled gum wrapper balls and twists, push lighter knob, spills and stains on the seats, mud scuffs on the interior door, loose mud flaps, gravel on the floor mats, cassette tapes with scratched or cracked cases scattered over the seats

Sounds

Exhaust rumbling or sputtering, a tinny rattle caused from a loose heat shield, grinding gears, squealing or squeaking brakes, back fires, creaky springs in the seats, a grumbling engine, a scraping whine of the starter trying to catch, chugging/hiccuping/stuttering motor, the chunk sound of a standard gear sliding into place, the squeak of the clutch being engaged, the creak of the emergency brake being pressed down, the bump of items in the trunk sliding around or jumping, the rattle of empty containers being displaced by feet, hands looking for something, or going around tight turns, radio or old country/rock cassette tapes, driver humming/singing to old tunes, loud conversation so to be heard over a loud engine, the slurp of a drink through a straw, swearing or smacking the dash of the truck in hopes of getting it to run, the slightly squeaky rub of the window as it's cranked down or up, doors slamming shut

Smells

Old food, dust, dirt, crumbling foam padding, smelly feet, spills (soured milk, pop, coffee) oil and grease, cigarettes, air freshener trying to cover the other sells up

Tastes

cold coffee, water, gum, cigarrettes, take out food, gas station food (beef jerky, chocolate bars, chips, hot dog, peanuts, etc) pop, energy drinks or shots

Touch

The smooth knob of the stick shift, the bouncing seat, the resistance of the emergency break, the pressure of the gas pedal, spinning the radio knob or volume knob, shouldering the door to get it to open from the inside, pulling the door handle hard to get it to shut, The jerk of motion at start up, a jarring ride over washboard roads, gravel and ruts, pressing hard on soft breaks, reaching down to the seat to grab something (a cassette tape, a chip bag, a piece of paper with an address on it, a box of cigarettes), fingers bumping the ridges of the steering wheel as it spins, tapping the steering wheel to the beat of a song, feeling the trucks vibration in the body as it idles, the hot sun on the arm, breeze on the side of the face and upper body from the window, leaning a arm on the open window door sill, adjusting a mirror, hitting the horn with the flat of the hand, sweeping a hand over trash on the seat to find something, the searing heat of spilled coffee on the hand or lap, dust in the throat from a open window

Helpful hints:


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

Example 1:
Cool air as good as any air conditioner poured through the windows and tossed my pine tree air freshener. Potholes in the dirt road tried to ruin my good mood but the patched seat softened the blows. I grinned ear to ear and turned up the radio. This truck would probably outlive me.

Example 2:
I scooted to the seat's edge, vainly pumping the gas pedal while sweat dripped into my eyes, stinging. I rocked to and fro, but the ancient truck continued to slow. A clang, then smoke shot out of the hood in three places. I slammed the cracked dashboard with my fist. Stupid truck!

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

Example 1: (Simile)

I stood on the running board of Henry's truck, trying to figure out where to sit. The bench seat was like the confectionery isle at the Gas and Go--a total mish-mash of beef jerky, pretzel bags, hunting magazines and red bull cans.

Example 2: (Metaphor)

The truck bucked and shuddered down the rutted road, nearly yanking my hands from the steering wheel. Was I on my way to pick up Beth-Ann or at a damn rodeo?


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CTS Entry: Crumbly


Natural:

Sand
Sandstone
Dried poop
Rotten wood
Soil
Clay
Dried mud
Dry riverbed
Rock slide
Scree
Gravel
Craggy cliffs
Dead leaves
Charred wood/ash
Eye grit
Snow crust
River banks/lips
Cliff edges
Canyons
Pollen
Sap crust on pine/spruce trees
Dried bark


Man-made:

Whole grain flour
Corn meal
Cookies
Muffins
Biscuits
Cakes
Crusts
Apple crisp
Pastry
Dry bread
Cornbread
Cheese (gorgonzola, bleu, lancashire, cheshire, feta)
Potato chips
Crackers
Sand castle
Old parchment
Chalk
Decayed bricks
Old fudge
Historic castle walls or buildings
Buildings in war torn nations
Crushed graham crackers
berry cobblers or strudels
Dried concrete leftovers
Old ruins
Loose plaster or stone cobbles
Crushed nuts
Fertilizer
Dried sugar crust

Synonyms: brittle, deteriorated, friable, powdery, pilled, clumped, lumpy

Describing texture in a story creates intimacy between reader and character, and can even cause an emotional trigger for both. To anchor the reader in the scene, make sure comparisons and contrasts are clear and relatable, and within the scope of the narrator's life knowledge and experience.

A weak example:

I brushed at my blouse, the cookie globs falling off like old barn paint.

What's wrong with this example?

This is close-but-not-quite-there description. Globs suggest a roundish, bulkier shape, whereas old barn paint suggests slivering flakes.

A strong example:

I brushed at my blouse, the cookie globs falling off like sun-baked clay at the edge of a cliff.

Why does this example work?

Here the imagery shapes line up just a touch better.

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Setting Thesaurus Entry: Zoo

Sight

trees, bamboo, shrubbery, bees, mosquitoes, sidewalks, wooden walkways, buildings, fenced enclosures, glassed-in enclosures, well-worn animal paths from pacing, fences, concession stand, restrooms, picnic tables, gift shop, informative signs, vending machines with animal food, garbage cans, fallen leaves, personnel on golf carts, janitors, animal trainers, children, parents with strollers, families, classes on field trips, birds, insects, fish, spiders, bats, reptiles, mammals, big cats, marsupials, rain forest animals, desert animals, grassland animals, arctic animals, woodland animals, rocks, pools, streams, caves, toys, food (cotton candy, snow cones, popcorn, ice cream, chips, fries, hamburgers, hot dogs), zoo cafe, stroller & wagon rental stations, smudged viewing windows, benches and steps, outdoor amphitheater for elephant show, cue card with animal information and photo, learning centers and activities, gift shop, play ground, lockers, washrooms

Animals: Tigers, puma, Elephants, Lions, Hippos, beavers, turtles, gorillas, howler monkey, spider monkey, panda, red panda, lynx, boas, porcupines, giraffes, bears, alligators, big horn sheep, moose, deer, zebra, ostrich, flamingos, peacocks, owls, bats, hawks, falcons, snakes, wart hog, vultures, fox, wolf, polar bear, black bear grizzly, leopard, snow leopard, chimpanzee, marmots, etc.

Sounds

people talking, cell phones ringing, children laughing/whining/asking questions, babies crying, running feet, leaves crunching, stroller wheels, beep of golf carts, wind in the trees, insects buzzing, birds chirping/calling, flap of bird wings, various animal cries/growling, animals splashing in water, personnel giving informative lessons over microphone or to small groups, food orders being called out, the rustle of napkins, kids shoes and sandals slapping against the paved walkways, bees buzzing, shrieking, food wrappers crinkling, money jingling in pockets, voices echoing in indoor animal enclosures and stations, doors swinging/sliding/whooshing open and shut, fake rain forest sounds coming from speakers, kids pounding or knocking on the glass, parents losing their temper


Smells

animal smells (manure, wet fur, oily hair/fur/skin) fishy or algae smells in water enclosures or man made ponds, garbage, rain, food from concession stand (hamburgers, pizza, hot dogs, chicken nuggets, fries, popcorn), mosquito repellent, sunblock (coconut or flowery), perfumes, body odor, babies who need diapers changed, mud, wild flowers, dust, fresh grass or hay, rotting fruit


Tastes

Fresh air, rainwater, bottled water, soda, concession stand food, sweat, mosquito repellent, sunblock, ice cream, chewing tobacco, gum, mints


Touch

wooden walkways/cracked sidewalks/fallen leaves underfoot, hot sidewalk, burning sun, cool breeze, drizzling rain, sweaty clothes sticking to skin, noses pressed against plastic/glass, frigid air of penguin house, perspiring soda bottles, melting ice cream, fence boards beneath fingers, gritty bird seed in hands, soft or coarse fur in petting zoo, wet noses, tickle of snouts as animals eat from your hand, greasy sunblock or mosquito repellent, pull of jacket around waist, bodies pressing together trying to see animals, being nudged, bumped, holding you hand out for change, the drip of ice cream on hand or arm, rubbing a napkin across the lips, brushing chip crumbs off clothing, smooth handrails, the weight of a camera in the hand or camera strap pulling at the neck, backpack pulling on shoulders

Helpful hints:


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

Example 1:

I stood at the glass, stretching up on my tip toes so I could find a spot not smudged by kids' butter-stained fingers. To see a lion up close at last! I scanned the fallen logs, the grassy hill, under the bower of a poplar tree, searching for the king of the jungle. Finally I found him pacing along a well-packed path that spanned the fence line. As the great creature paraded back and forth over and over, my excitement faded and my heart began to hurt. It didn't belong here, caged inside wire and fed rations of meat. It belong in a place without barriers or borders. It deserved a life free of man where it could hunt and provide for its pride. As people around me gasped in awe of it's massive body and silky mane, I turned away and made for the exit.

Example 2:

"Mommy, look!" Sandy poked her stick-like hand up in the air as if she could touch the sky. "Big!"

I grinned and knelt down beside her stroller, seeing what she saw--her first look at a real giraffe. Sandy sucked in a breath as the creature's graceful neck leaned forward toward a tree branch. With careful precision, its tan lips stripped all the leaves. We sat there watching it's slow smooth gait as it went from tree to tree, until a zookeeper came into the enclosure and led the giraffe indoors.

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

Example 1: (Simile)

The peacock strutted among the wild grass and marigolds, it's beautiful blue-green tail feathers trailing behind it like a bride's wedding dress.


Example 2: (Metaphor)

Mary and Arlen ran pell-mell down the leaf-littered path between the flamingo enclosure and the Lion Den Cafe, shrieking at the top of their lungs how they had to see the elephants right now. I hurried after them, praying they didn't knock anyone down. Funny how an ice cream cone, a bottle of pop and a bag of gummy bears could make two six year old seem less like zoo visitors and more like occupants.

Color Thesaurus Entry: Red


Real World Comparisons:

Light:

Rhubarb
Cayenne pepper
Strawberries
Watermelon
Radishes
Ladybugs
Fall leaves
Fire
Bloodshot eyes
Cinnamon
Raspberries
Paprika
Red ants
Zits
Haematite
Rust
Rose hips

Medium:

Red bell pepper
Oscar red carpet
Stop signs, yield signs, no entry signs
Cranberries
Canadian Red Cross symbol
Poppies
Cooked Lobsters
Cardinals
Tomatoes
Spaghetti sauce
Rooster crest
Turkey waddles
Tail lights
Blood
Cherry Jello
Holly berries
Santa suit
Rubies
Heart
Red rose
Stop light
Red Currants
Elmo
Superman's cape

Dark:

Apples
Kidney beans
Grapes
Cherries
Raw meat
Pomegranate seeds
Wine
Tongue
Salsa
Dried Blood
Bricks
Henna
Garnet
Sunsets
Port
Red Herring
Scratches
Healing wounds
Scars

Shades of Red:

Carmine, Crimson, Scarlet, Vermilion, Ruddy, Ruby, Rouge, Vermilion, Sanguine, Burgundy, Maroon, Cherry, Poppy

Make every detail count

Colors are powerful descriptors, not fillers. Make sure that if you use a comparison or contrast to highlight a color, you choose the right one. Look at the setting and atmosphere you are working to create, then draw from the viewpoint character or narrator's history, education and past experiences to find the right fit.

A poor example:

Mary checked the balance sheets again, but found the same result: the financials for all three shell companies were a deep crimson.

What's wrong with this example?

When the color has a deep symbolic meaning that is consistently referenced a certain way like red for debt (in the red), a plot device (a red herring), an idiom for partying (painting the town red) then don't mess with it--your phrasing will only appear flowery and overwritten. Save color description for when the shade is important or the color is symbolic but not boxed in by a specific idiom.

A strong example:

When our principal announced Lorna's name as our final term's Most Improved Student, I had to practically shove her off her seat to go and collect her award. Once she reached the stage though, she was grinning like crazy, her cheeks brighter than the fake poppies adorning her flip flops.

Why is this example better?

Here the red cheeks for embarrassment is a well known symbolism, but not one tied down to a specific idiom or phrasing.

Happy Canada Day...


...Fellow Canadians!

And hey if you don't live in Canada, I'm making you an honorary Canuck for the day so you can get out there and eat, drink and get merrified!

We have to enjoy these times...the zombie apocalypse could happen any day, after all.

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