CTS Entry: Bumpy

Natural:
Rash
Turtle shell
Blisters
Pebbly beach
Shrimp shells
Pumpkins
Noses
Scars
Veins
Potato/Yam
Squash
Carrots
Stones
Burls, tree fungus
Tree bark
Raspberries
Gourds
Lemon, grapefruit, palmetto or orange peel
Toads
Pineapples
Knuckles & knees
Sea shells
Barnacles
Lizards/crocodiles/alligators
Cauliflower
Coral
Corn cob
Raisins, prunes
Cucumber
Goose bumps
Spine
Warts
Scabs
Callouses

Man-made:

Bubble wrap
Speed bumps
Dirt roads
Bath mat
Braids
Pottery
Jewelry
Old seat cushions
Roller coaster ride
Lego
Egg cartons
Coarse yarn
Diapers
Braille
Tire treads
Old Pillows
Warped & scarred tables/benches/picnic tables
Baskets
Corrugated metal
Pot holes
Buttons on a phone
Crusty bread or pizza crust
Castle walls
Runway landing
Cave or tunnels
Cottage cheese
Knots


Synonyms:

bumpy, lumpy, knobby, uneven, rough, irregular, clumpy, coarse, pebbly, pocked, nubby, chunky, gnarled, hilly, scabby


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 rooted through the cardboard barrel, sorting through the pumpkins. A squat one with a streak of green on one side caught my eye and I hoisted it up. This would make a perfect first jack-o-lantern for Sarah. I ran my hand over the smooth orange ridges, brushing away dust. Strange how nature could make something be both smooth and bumpy at the same time.

What's wrong with this example?

This one's tricky, because there's good description that creates recognition--as the character experiences the bumpy and smooth texture, so does the reader. However, while relating to the texture is the goal, we don't want to go so far that the reader ends up thinking about this oddity in nature and how it relates to the cosmos instead of what the character is experiencing (picking out a first pumpkin for his daughter to carve).

A strong example:

I held tight to the plastic handle above the cracked side window, trying to keep some part of me unbruised as Raymond's pickup bounced over driveway's bumper crop of ruts and potholes.

Why does this example work?

This one creates instant recognition--we've all travelled bumpy roads--without derailing the story.

6 comments:

Bish Denham said...

There are so many wonderful bumby, lumpy things and you chosen some really good ones. I'm going to add terry cloth and corduroy.

PJ Hoover said...

It's all good, and I can never thank you gals enough!

Mary Witzl said...

You've done 'bumpy' proud here, but what I really appreciate is your pointing out that 'showing' can sometimes hijack a story and result in TMI instead of painting a vivid picture that charms and illuminates. I've been going over my own ms and finding far too many examples of that.

(Don't forget avocados, by the way -- knobbly, bumpy Haas as opposed to silky smooth Zutanos. And pilled sweaters and old fabric too.)

Casey said...

I don't know how you think of some of these!

I would never have thought of raspberries, but they do have a really awesome bumpy feel (I was eating some the other day.).

Thanks girls!

Windsong said...

Great entry. I love how you have both natural and man-made things. Keep up the good work!

C.R. Evers said...

Great list! My current WIP has something to do w/ frogs. I may have to bookmark this list.

thnx!

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