Fresh sap beads
Raisins, dates, prunes
Dog chew toys
Soft cat/dog food
Cream cheese bricks
Tube of toothpaste
Hot water Bottle
Pillsbury Dough Boy
malleable, pliant, flexible, bendable, yielding, rubbery
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 hated Halloween parties. Every one pulled the same gag–a box with an opening just big enough to fit your hand into that had a sign on it that said “Rat intestines” or “Fish eyeballs.” You stick your hand in and feel up a bunch of oiled up gummy bears or perogies. For once someone should be a little realistic and visit the offal bin at a Butcher’s shop.
What’s wrong with this example?
While greased gummy bears and perogies are pliant, I’ve never seen them used in these type of boxes, have you? The whole idea with describing a texture is to choose something that the reader will recognize and to trigger memory if possible.
A strong example:
I hated Halloween parties. Every one pulled the same gag–a box with an opening just big enough to fit your hand into that had a sign on it that said “Rat intestines” or “Fish eyeballs.” You stick your hand in and knead a pile of cold, slick noodles and peeled grapes. For once someone should be a little realistic and visit the offal bin at a Butcher’s shop.
Why does this example work?
Noodles and peeled grapes are much more common and the shapes are better suited for what the signs indicate.
A similar entry: Spongy/Foamy
Angela is a writing coach, international speaker, and bestselling author who loves to travel, teach, empower writers, and pay-it-forward. She also is a founder of One Stop For Writers, a portal to powerful, innovative tools to help writers elevate their storytelling.
Shannon O'Donnell says
Great examples – I love the “cold, slick noodles and peeled grapes.” You’re right. They create a much more powerful reaction. I was nodding my head and cringing before I could stop myself! 🙂
Tara McClendon says
The mental image cellulite brought up wasn’t pretty. Squishy yes. Pretty nope.