Setting Thesaurus Entry: Medieval Markets

Sight

Cramped wooden stalls, sweaty vendors, bright fabric roofing or simple framing to hang merchandise from, wares laid out on cloth or leaves (food, vegetables, jewelry, weaponry, books, bright bolts of cloth and silk, spices, fruit, alcohol/ale, clothing & shoes, elixirs & powders, pendant/flags/statuettes/souvenirs of royalty in power, baskets, leather goods, hanks of smoked & fresh meat [chicken, ham, salted beef, fish], bread goods and pastries), crates, bins, racks, shelves, boxes, barrels, shoppers browsing with carry baskets or satchels, jingling pouches of coins, orphaned children working the crowds and stalls, begging or thieving, smoke rising from cook stoves or portable grills, midden piles, flies, stray dogs, trash, muddy flagstones, packed bodies, musicians & performers, people haggling/bartering, tethered goats, crates of live chicken or rabbits for sale, a soothsayer tent, exotic creatures or good from foreign lands

Sounds

Haggling, bartering, sellers hawking wares, people calling out to friends, laughter, animals braying/barking/clucking, creaking wagons as they pass, the clop of horses' hooves, mugs hitting the tabletop, people calling for service in eating areas or outdoor drinking establishments, meat sizzling on a grill, gossip, packages crinkling, vendors banging on a pot/whistling to get attention or demonstrate a product's sturdiness, music, sun protective cloth on stalls flapping, beads clicking together, thatch rustling in the breeze, the jingle of coins

Smells

Spices, grilling meats, yeast from baked bread, sweat, rot from alleyway middens, dust, char, smoke, over-ripe fruit, manure, oils, leather, perfume, ale

Tastes

Ale, beer/wine, fresh juices, spicy meats, bread & rolls, sweet rolls, candied fruit, roasted nuts, kabobs

Touch

Cobbles underfoot, stepping to avoid refuse, manure or muddy patches, tripping on loose clay, stroking fabric for quality, testing buckles, ties and straps for durability, hefting the weight of something (a knife blade, pot, etc), fingering a handful of coin as you decide whether to purchase or not, squeezing into gaps to reach a stall, bumping into people in crowded areas, nudging, elbows poking, having feet stepped on, goats or dogs bumping against legs, the pull of a heavy basket on arm, full of new purchases, pointing to a specific item, holding up a piece of clothing or piece of fabric, paging through a book, tapping a tray of goods to select an item to look at, juggling hot food or a drink, readjusting packages, feeling hot sun on the back of the neck, wiping at sweaty forehead, shading eyes from the sun to look around, fingering beads or decoration on clothing or jewelry, lifting spice pots and sachets to the nose to smell, sorting through fruits or vegetables for unbruised product, turning away or flapping a hand to feign disinterest or disgust at a vendor's pricing in hopes of him or her readjusting the price, holding onto the hand of a child so they are not lost in the crowd, smoke stinging the eyes

Helpful hints:


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

Example 1:

Whenever possible, Marcel would fetch water early, crossing Market Square at dawn as the vendors arrived to set up their booths. The sunlight fell gentle on his shoulders and the air still held that crisp, dewy smell. Sometimes he would linger a moment or two, admiring bead work on a festival shirt or the sheen of a dagger's blade, dreaming of the day that he could afford such things.

Example 2:

Karla hated running the outdoor tables for her uncle on market day. After a few pints, the air turned fetid with sour ale and the customers were much too free with their hands, while being stingy with their tips.

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

Example 1: (Simile)


Inside the ring of brightly decorated booths, villagers packed the grassy common like a corral of sheep waiting to be fleeced.

Example 2: (Metaphor)


By noon, the air was alive with spices and honeyed scents. Candied nuts, exotic fruit, sweetbreads and glazed pastry lined the tables in the market, a gauntlet of temptation for those trying to hang onto hard-earned shillings.

18 comments:

Bish Denham said...

Good one! I should think there'd been the strong aroma of sewage, people threw their waste into the street. And body odor...

Laura Pauling said...

This a great one! I'm sure it will get a lot of use! :) Thanks.

Kristi Bernard said...

I love to use the 5 senses when I write. I especially love smells. Thanks for sharing.

Michelle Gregory said...

this is great. now i just need a medieval army camp.

Meredith said...

I love this one! Thanks! :)

Jeff King said...

Since I write medieval fantasy, your examples hit home. I love visiting your blog; I always learn something vital, something that makes my writing stronger.

Your writing examples are strong and easy to understand, and that helps me put them into practice.

Thx for all you do…

The All Real Numbers Symbol said...

Neat! Thanks for the post!

mshatch said...

love this one :)

Coral Russell said...

Nice idea! :)

ralfast said...

Smells are key, this being the era after the Roman baths, no aqueducts, open sewers and little or no soap.

;)

Stina Lindenblatt said...

This makes me jealous that I don't write fantasy or historical romances. ;)

The Golden Eagle said...

I have a few market scenes that could definitely benefit from this--thanks for the post!

Becca Puglisi said...

Love the 'gauntlet of temptation' comparison. Great job, Angela!

Becca

mgudlewski said...

I thank thee, Angela!

anna said...

What a wonderful, evocative collection! And so generous of you to share it - thank you!

Traci Kenworth said...

Wohoo!! I LOVE the medieval period and I'm sure I'll definitely use this along the way!!

Medeia Sharif said...

I'm fascinated with medieval times. But listening to teachers and professors when I was younger, I began to think of it as a smelly, unwashed era.

Raisa said...

dont want to sound annoying but i have a request......your setting thesaurus is SUPERB so i was wondering if you could write one entry on the REGENCY ERA....PLEEEEEAAAASSSEEE....

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