CTS Entry: Slimy
Posted by Angela Ackerman
Rotten vegetables and meat
Wet dead fall/deadwood
Raw fish or prawns
Dog chew toys
Noodles in sauce
dirty shower stalls
Slippery, Slick, Oily, Viscous, Glutinous, Sludge, Gunk, Mucous, Goo, Guck, Gungy, Mire, Ooze
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:
The port's fish market was something to see--piles of octopus and squid in plastic containers, their dripping, ropey tentacles hanging over the sides; mounds of gooey-skinned fish buzzing with flies; pails of oysters, their bumpy shells clotted with strings of algae. I shuddered and hailed a cab to take me to the nearest grocery store. I'd take packaged over fresh any day.
What's wrong with this example?
Lots of good, slimy imagery, but that's the problem...textures are most effective where you show them through touch.
A strong example:
I cringed as I dipped my bare leg into the bathtub of stinking fish guts. Ropes of cold intestines and who-knows-what slid around my skin. I brought my other leg in and bit down on a shriek as something full of puss broke open beneath my foot. My eyes teared up and my breath came in sharp, painful pants and as I lowered myself into the disgusting mass. All around me, the live audience screamed and shouted, and I imagined the TV cameras zooming in on my shaking hands as I clamped down on the sides of the free-standing tub. What the hell made me decide to become a contestant on Fear Factor?
Why does this example work?
This works because multiple senses (but primarily touch) work together to show the emotional reaction to this texture.