CTS Entry: Gritty
Posted by Angela Ackerman
Morning eye gunk
Tartar on teeth
Thick dust coating a counter, shelf or knick-knack
Dirty drinking water
Peanut shell 'dust'
Crushed sea shells
Blowing ice pellets/snow
Fruit and berries with edible seeds (kiwifruit, raspberries, dragon fruit, etc)
Facial scrubs (exfoliation)
Egg shells dropped in food
Chip crumbs (brushing them off a shirt, fingers, lips)
Bread crumbs on a tablecloth
Debris on a floor
Dried on food
Parmesan cheese shaker
Whole wheat germ flour
Drinking form a dirty glass with dishwasher gunk at the bottom
Old ice cream (freezer burn)
Crushed cookies or crackers
Blended ice drinks (Margaritas, coffee drinks, Slurpee's
Epsom salts, bath crystals/salts, seasoning salt
Mealy, coarse-textured, tophaceous, rough, sandy, granular, grit, grainy
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:
He bent over double, coughing and hacking, dropping the reins to prop his hands on his knees. A breeze from Hell tickled his sweating skin, coating him with a layer of dirt. He wiped his face, removing the fine grains and a bit of skin with it. He kicked the parched ground, sending up a tornado of dust. What was the point of trying to seed this desert?
What's wrong with this example?
The comparisons are over-done. A breeze from Hell, the dirt actually removing skin from his face, a tornado of dust from a simple boot scuff...all are comparisons that could be good if they were toned down. As is, they give the passage a feeling of melodrama that makes it unbelievable.
A strong example:
The gale whipped my hair into a frenzy of knots and tried to knock me off my feet. I braced myself, head bowed against the blowing ocean spray. The winds were nearly hurricane force now, strong enough to scour my skin with the sand they carried. I closed my eyes, felt the sting of raindrops like persistent guests banging on the windows. Stumbling, I made my way back inside to bar the door.
Why does this example work?
The comparisons are realistic, matching both the narrator's voice and the context.