Setting Thesaurus Entry: Bank


Security guard, video cameras, cashier wickets, pen on a chain, table for deposit slips, envelopes, forms, etc Tellers, Bank Manager behind desk, computer monitors, computers, drawers of cash, traveller's cheques, filing cabinets, stamps and stamp pads, cash machines, mortgage signs, investment offers, counting machines, waiting area, offices, bank vault, locked rooms, tile floor, complementary candies in a dish or jar, coffee/tea machine, magazines on table in waiting area, potted plants, Rate-of-exchange currency board, large glass windows, double glass doors, trash bins, business card holders, telephones, line ups, customers shifting foot-to-foot, people with wallets out, purses or cash deposit bags, paper shredder station, fax machine, printers, jar of pens, bill counting machine, cash, printouts, stairs leading to vault and safety deposit boxes


The ruffle of paper as bills are counted by hand, the sound of the teller's voice as she rattles off amounts, the thunk of a stamp on paperwork, a teller calling, "next', soft music in the background, coughing, people speaking in low voices, the gurgle and hiss of the coffee machine, the shuffle of feet on time floors, doors and drawers opening and closing, the tap of keys on the keyboard, the scratch of a pen, unzipping of a purse, the slap of a bank card being set down on the counter, a till tape spitting out of an adding machine, the whirr of the fax machine, heels clicking across the floor, air conditioning in vents


Cleaner (pine, lemon, ammonia, paper, ink from cash, warm electronics (kind of a dusty-ozone type scent), perfume/cologne mingling in the air, coffee, bad breath, food warmed up in an unseen break room, hair products


Cheap candies from the bowl, mints, gum, water, coffee, tea


Pushing the door open, walking to the back of the line, shifting weight as you wait, digging in purse, checking cell phone for messages/texts, clasping hands in front of you while you wait, tugging wallet out of a pocket, leaning on service counter with elbows, sliding bank card out of holder, leaning over counter slightly to see what the teller is doing, reaching for the pen to sign slips, putting pen back in holder, reading through paperwork before folding and placing in purse or wallet, tucking bills into a wallet or cramming them into a pocket

Helpful hints:

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

Example 1:

Stamp, stamp, slide the drawer open, count the bills and slide the drawer shut. That was my life, handing cash across a marble counter to an assortment of people all with bigger bank accounts than I'd ever have. Just once I'd like to slide my fingers into the cool metal drawer, place my back to the security camera and take a little something for myself.

Example 2:

My opportunist's eye swept the room--three tellers, a security guard near the doors, rubbing at his chest and sending glances at the bathroom. He'd be heading off for a drink of water in hopes of easing his after-lunch heartburn. I spotted another guard by a tall potted palm at the mouth of a long hall, chatting up a pretty teller. Behind him would be the stairwell to the lower levels and the vault, filled with cash overflow and foreign currency, a delicious temptation for someone like me. I pulled my brim into place so it would shade my face for the cameras above. Today was recon, but after the hit cops would be sure to scroll through old footage.

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

Example 1: (Simile)

The line stretched and twisted along the roped queue like an impatient, foot shifting centipede.

Example 2: (Metaphor)

I fidgeted, my fingers tapping against my purse as I glanced around for co-workers. The room was crowded with people like me, trying to cram in some banking during the lunch hour. God I hoped that cheque for Dillan's Hockey camp hadn't hit the account yet. This stupid tunnel-shaped banking area picked up every whisper and word. If the teller said 'overdraft' I'd be an elephant on display at a circus, with the rest of the line cackling over the poor, pathetic women who couldn't even keep her finances straight.


Julie Musil said...

You're a genius! Thank you

Karen Lange said...

Great, as always!

Misha said...

Great post!

It shows methods of setting a scene really well...

Bish Denham said...

My bank has a popcorn machine, so sometimes when I go in there's the sound and/or smell of popcorn. Yum.

Mary Witzl said...

Ooh, I'm first!

I like your examples, as always, especially the soccer mother worried about her balance. But in the smell section, you forgot the smell of crisp, clean money. I'd like to smell that again some day myself...

Susanne Drazic said...

These are good. Not sure I would have thought about the smells you find in a bank. I think my mind would have been blank on that one.

Here are some (I've experienced) for sounds:
- whining kids
- babies crying
- coins dropping on the floor

Amie Kaufman said...

This is so evocative -- it's one thing to tell people to bring their setting to life, another to provide a list like this that proves how many options are available in doing so. Valuable lesson, thank you!

Angela Ackerman said...

Great adds, you guys! HOW could I FORGET the smell of cold hard cash??? I guess I'm not around it enough so it slipped my mind, lol.

Jan Markley said...

Then there's the whole bank machine experience with the camera staring at you!

Christina Farley said...

Fantastic as usual. Have you done one on island? I didn't see one. Do you take requests? :-)

If so that's mine

Riv Re said...

Stumbling through on the code hunt. Very surprised you didn't hide anything here ;)


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