Bigger smile - close up 4th of July 2012

Hi from Gail Gaymer Martin at who has been traveling in Europe, but who is here through the magic of the Internet. I always enjoy sharing some writing tips with you.

The question, “What is texture in writing” was asked in one of my writing groups, and many floundered to answer it. Texture is something desirous and yet it is one of those illusive craft details that most people can’t define. They just recognize it when they see it, but editors look for it and readers relate to it so texture is something to understand and develop in your writing.

Texture to me is layering and deepening the color of the story, using vivid language, strong emotion, dynamic characters and plot lines that build one conflict or point on another. Texture is meant to be felt. We want readers to feel the weave and enjoy the tapestry of the story because they can sense where the threads are knotted together and where they overlap. They aren’t snagged or created happenstance but form a clear and beautiful picture.

This means that texture has to do with using the senses to their fullest and drawing readers into the mind of the POV character so that they are also seeing, hearing, tasting, touching and smelling all that the character is experiencing. The author must focus on details, not for the sake of providing information the reader might not know but to reflect the history, the setting, and the experiences through the eyes of the person living it. People react differently to smells, touch, tastes. What you consider a pleasure might not be a pleasure to me. Characters react the same, and as they interact with the stimulus around them, their reactions add texture and depth to the story.

Building texture into a story also helps to create unique characters, individuals who are not paper cutouts, but who have dimension. It means avoiding stereotypes and cliches, but learning to see the world and everything in it as a metaphor to something deeper. This type of detail in writing creates texture and develops your writer’s voice. Your writing becomes as unique as your story and characters. We want readers to remember our work, and texture is part of the writing craft that can do that.

To experience this, find a landscape photo in a magazine or on a calendar. Sit down with your computer or note pad and describe the scene as if you were there—using your senses and personal reaction to pleasure. Now take a character from your latest novel. See this scene through that character’s eyes. Think about his personality, his struggles, needs and goals at the moment, decide where you are in the plot. How might this character see the same scene? While you enjoyed the green rolling hills in the background, your character might see this hills differently. He might see them as the ups and downs of his life. He might notice though some of the hills are green, a barren spot is on one side, and he sees himself standing on the barren hill, looking across at the green, wondering why he can’t be in that lush setting while everything around him is dying.

I hope you see how these descriptions, deep thought and vivid language adds color and texture to the tapestry of your story. Word toward developing this skill in your work. It will add depth to your story and will gain admiration from readers.

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