For this week’s writing road trip, I oﬀer you texture.
I aim for an abstract element of a realistic subject and use texture to add interest and suggest depth.
—a quote that to the best of my research abilities I ﬁnd attributable to artist Margaret Roseman.
I liked the way the above quote spoke to how texture can be used in visual art. But what role does texture play in writing? How can your students use texture to add interest and suggest depth in their written work?
As writers we talk about multiple layers of meaning. That’s a kind of texture. Ask your students, “How many different ways do you hope your piece speaks to an audience? How many layers deep have you gone down into multiple meanings?”
Words themselves have texture for me, especially when read out loud. Remind your students not to overlook the simple trick of speaking out their writing. For instance, does describing a character’s voice as “gravelly” rather than “harsh” add more texture when you say them both out loud? Or is it just a different kind of texture? What does your ear hear?
Words of various lengths, sentences of various lengths, all the way up through paragraphs or stanzas of varying lengths—when eﬀectively piecing together the threads at hand, a writer becomes a fabric artist, weaving together strands that have diﬀerent heft and weight to create a unique texture that is suited to the piece, to the writer, and to the reader. Encourage your students to play with synonyms, to diﬀer their sentence length to see how doing so creates different eﬀects for their readers.
Remember, we often experience texture through our ﬁngertips—the same part of our anatomy that pounds out words on a keyboard.
For today, that’s my take on “just another roadside abstraction.”