Setting Thesaurus Entry: Halloween Party

Sight

Jack-o-lanterns, rubber rats, hairy hanging spiders, fake spiderwebs, candles, orange and black garland, black bats on strings, paper skeletons, fake headstones, coffins, black fabric draped on the walls and furniture, black and orange balloons, strings of orange lights, spooky sound effect music, battery operated crawling hands and skeletons, hanging ghosts that shake, rubber snakes & cockroaches, glowing skulls, fake blood, axes, dimmed lights, shadows, urns filled with candy corn, Halloween themed paper plates/napkins/cups, punchbowl with floating eyeballs, dirt cake with gummy worms, cat litter cake, finger cookies, candy, cupcakes with spiders on them, spotlights, fog machine, candelabras, statue of the grim reaper, scythe, dry ice, music, people dressed up as monsters, witches, superheros, zombies, skeletons, pirates, vampires, historical figures, angels, fairies, werewolves, princesses, football players, rock stars, cheerleaders, animals, devils,  knights, movie characters, wizards, boxes filled with spaghetti labelled 'intestines' boxes filled with peeled grapes labelled 'eyeballs', party games like spin the bottle, bobbing for apples, people dancing, chips/pretzels/candy wrappers on the floor, discarded cups/plates sitting on the TV, tables, the back of furniture, on the stairs, counter, feathers and glitter from costumes being trampled into the carpet

Sounds

Recorded sound effects (howling, cackling, creaking, laughter, moaning, wind blowing, bats screeching, chains rattling etc) people laughing, the rustle of costumes, music, glasses clinking, people talking, doorbell ringing, people running up and down the stairs, yelling, shouting, screaming, squeals, howling, people talking in character/costumed voices, cheering, the hiss of a beer or pop bottle being opened

Smells

Pizza, chips, chocolate cake, buttery sweet candy corn, alcohol (if served), pop, water, sweat, chalky/greasy make up, hair spray, candle wax, smoke, Cinnamon, popcorn, perfume/cologne, hair products, stuffy air

Tastes

Candy, sugar, chocolate, chips, frosting, pizza, spices, apples, water, pop, punch, alcohol, popcorn, jello shots, jelly beans, gummy worms, pudding, cookie crumb toppings, pumpkin seeds, pumpkin pie/tarts/cookies/muffins/loaf

Touch

The feel of starchy crinoline on costumes, sleek silky costume dresses and capes, the greasy feel of face make up, sweat under a hot costume, touching the fur of a dance partner's costume, sipping from a cup and trying not to get face makeup everywhere, crusty hair sprayed hair to hold form, pressing up against another dancer, bumping/nudging/rubbing against someone to pass in a hallway or to get across the room, feeling popcorn or candy underfoot, the light touch of fake spiderwebs on the neck, shivering as someone leans in close to whisper in the ear to be heard, jerking/tugging at costume to straighten it, the weight of a filled paper plate in the hand, the cool moisture of a cold drink against fingertips, an anonymous pinch/grope/elbow/grab in a packed room

Helpful hints:


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

Example 1:


After taping the last strip of fishing line from the roof, I climbed down from the ladder an admired my work. With the lights turned down, no one would see the strands in the hall. One touch against the back of the neck or face and people would immediately imagine a spiderweb and freak out.

Example 2:

My ex friend Mandy emerged from the crowd on the dance floor, dressed in a glittery blue cheer leading costume that showed so much skin she must have bought it from the Little Miss section. Preening at every hoot and whistle, she hooked her arm through my boyfriend Jeff's. "Interesting costume, Leda," she said, giving me a bitchy smile. "Only are you Raggedy Ann, or Andy?"

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

Example 1: (Simile)

Erma set the candy bowl on the table and waited for someone to reach in. It had a buzzer inside that would shake the moment someone crossed the motion sensor. All those gummy worms would jiggle like live maggots and she'd bet money that whoever had their hand in there would shriek at the top of their lungs.

Example 2: (Metaphor)


While everyone headed for the kitchen to bob for apples, Ben moved down the dark hall toward the bathroom. He eyed the cobwebbed-streaked doors in case one of his friends decided to jump out at him, but they stayed closed. At the end, he turned the knob and pushed on the bathroom door. High-pitched laughter washed over him in a cackling wave and he stumbled back, heart jamming against his ribs. The creaky laughter became the clanking of chains. Ben grinned, clutching at his chest. Someone rigged the door with one of those spooky mixed CDs!

20 comments:

Kay Theodoratus said...

I don't know what's ruined Halloween more -- commercialization or crazies?

Kittie Howard said...

Fun and thought provoking post! Lots of cool stuff! Those CD's never fail to get the heart pounding.

Joanna St. James said...

so u will understand how helpful this is for us on the other side of the world who don't celebrate Halloween. The town's Christmas lights have been strung up, they are not yet lit but that is the next big thing here. There is no sense of Halloween and yummy candy in the air.

Laura Pauling said...

Awesome! Thanks Angela. October comes around and I always want to write a Halloween story. I think because the words and images associated with it are so much fun!

Stina Lindenblatt said...

Nothing like getting us into the Halloween spirit. Okay, my kids dragging me off to find their costumes today may have something to do with that, too. ;)

Wendy S Marcus said...

Every year for Halloween my husband loves to break out the creepy music. I think it's the reason children avoid our house. Maybe it was the year I gave out pretzels. Who knows?

Kelly said...

I love Halloween! A reason to dress up and lots of candy.
Being a little scared is fun too!

Melissa Gill said...

I think you must have snuck into my sister's basement. This sounds just like her Halloween party.

Deb Salisbury said...

LOL! My favorite holiday! Love your descriptions.

Marian Perera said...

This post is so evocative. I can't wait to read the Christmas one. :)

Angela Ackerman said...

Halloween is such an awesome time of year, and so many stories are built around it, I just had to do a setting for it!

Happy Halloween, all!

Angela @ The Bookshelf Muse

Julie Musil said...

You're brilliant. I know my next novel will have an October party scene, and now I've just decided to make it a Halloween party! I've bookmarked this page for when I get to that point. Thank you for sharing your mad brilliance with the rest of us.

Jemi Fraser said...

Okay - that's it for me. I'm NEVER sticking my hand in a bowl of gummy worms - never!!! :)

Angela Ackerman said...

That's great--so glad this will help! :)

Beth said...

What a great idea starter! I have a (mostly finished) MG manuscript that has a couple of scenes set on or near Halloween. This should definitely help bring it up a notch or two! Thanks.

Connie Arnold said...

Sounds great fun! Wonderful descriptions, Angela!

Clarissa Draper said...

I'm soon editing my manuscript...again and your site will be so helpful. Thank you.

CD

Sharon K. Mayhew said...

Wonderful post, Angela! It made me think about when I was a kid and I went to a haunted house. It was pitch black and you had to use your other senses. I remember having my hand stuck in a bowl of brains (cold wet cooked spagetti) and a bowl of eyeballs (raw eggs)!

Laura Pauling said...

And I have an award for you on my blog today! :)

Heather said...

This is awesome! You captured the feel of a Halloween party perfectly! I love it!

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