Texture Thesaurus: Powdery

Natural:

Pollen
Dust
Dirt
Mildew
Butterfly/moth wings
Ashes
Ground spices
Soot
Dry rot
Volcanic ash


Man-made:

Chalk
Cocoa powder
Flour
Baking soda/powder
Cement mix
Icing sugar
Make up foundation
Baby powder
Talc powder
Blush
Drink powder (Kool aid, crystal light, protein powder etc)
Jelly-filled powder donuts
Gunpowder
Cosmetics
Dried soap scum
Cake bottoms
Laundry powder
Dry plaster
Uncoated pills
Drugs (cocaine, meth)
Cake mixes
Coating on a fresh stick of gum
Marshmallow coating

Synonyms:

Chalky, dusty, filmy, pulverous, pulverulent


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:

With her back to the wind, Anna knelt in the field and ran her hands through the soil drifting between the limp stalks of corn. Powder dusted her hand like the leftovers of a sugar donut.Closing her eyes, she lifted her face to the sun and prayed that the rains would come, that Pa's crop would be saved.

What's wrong with this example?

A donut dusted in icing sugar is a positive, and likely brings out good feeling in the reader. This is at direct odds with what the dusty soil actually signifies--possible hardship for Anna's family.


A strong example:

With her back to the wind, Anna knelt in the field and ran her hands through the soil drifting between the limp stalks of corn. The ground had as much moisture as the chalky brushes old Ms. Stitch made her clap together every day after school. Closing her eyes, she lifted her face to the sun and prayed that the rains would come, that Pa's crop would be saved.  

Why does this example work?

The dry ground texture is tied to an unpleasant chore--cleaning erasers, which sets it up as an emotional negative. 



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3 comments:

PJ Hoover said...

It's like when I'm dusting cookies with powdered sugar. Yummy!

Kelly said...

This is funny that you posted this. I just cleaned up a bunch of baby powder on the tile floor. (I put it along the base of the kitchen floor because it is supposed to be a nontoxic ant barrier.)

Mary Witzl said...

Yep: powdered sugar beats chalk dust any time for icky dryness. I tried to think of a negative dust reference that wasn't soil related and failed entirely. And yet chalk dust has been so much a part of my life -- I've probably blocked it out of my mind...

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