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Journaling for Creativity.

Can you describe a taste?

Recently I was asked to describe the taste of a cheesecake to someone, who due to an allergy had never tasted cheesecake.

As I stumbled on finding any adequate analogies for what was a most delicious peanut and chocolate cheese cake, a comment was made.

“You are the writer, come on, do better than that!”

How did I feel? Small, at a loss, wanting and totally inadequate.

When you consider it for a while, there are many things that virtually deny description, things that have to be compared against some equivalent sibling for reference. As usual, when it was too late my brain supplied categories and comparisons for the cheesecake, similar textures, similar tastes, and similar responses in the mouth.

The resultant Frankenstein analogy, although inelegant, would have conveyed most of the experience from eating that particular dessert.

Consider describing;

Cobalt blue to a blind man
The taste of pineapple
The scent of a lily
Feeling wet

Some are easier than others, some are surprising. Take ‘pain’, automatically we think in terms of other pain of different magnitudes but are all the pains that we experience the same?

Is the pain from heat the same as the pain from a loud noise, the same as the pain from a bright light? Are you sure?

As we wander through our everyday life, as writers we need to consider what we see and touch. We should ask ourselves, ‘how would I describe that?’ breakdown our experiences into the essence of what they are. By weaving into our fiction these essences we can absorb our reader into the experience we have crafted.

Sometimes the ability to describe a sensation without mundane comparisons will keep the reader flowing with the prose and not be jarred out to his/her normal world, especially in science fiction.

“The taste of Apples mixed slightly with Limes, filled her mouth.”

Thinks; ‘fruit bowl, must by some bananas at Cheap-o-Mart’, or

“The fruit first produced a sharpness which nipped at the tip and edges of her tongue, making them wish to curl, and at the back of her tongue a smoothing sweetness washed around before passing serenely down her throat.”

Thinks; ‘Oh, is it poisonous?’ or some other concern for your protagonist.

By being able to describe everyday experiences well by means other than analogy it allows us to keep the mundane and the now, out of our fantasy and period pieces.

Analogy when used well, as you probably know, is wonderful for expanding the reader’s perception of what the writer means to convey.

It can also work against you, so be careful.

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3 comments to Can you describe a taste?

  • Pthalo

    Cobalt blue is a cold colour, slippery and cold like greased metal. It is also wet, the kind of wet that you feel when you are in water, not the kind you feel afterwards when your wet clothes are sticking to you.

    Pineapples are sweet but sour, and juicy, they taste rough and fibrous, like mangoes.

    I don’t know what lilies smell like.

    By feeling wet, do you mean the feeling you get when you are immersed in water, or do you mean feeling damp? Being immersed in water is a nice feeling, provided nothing slimy is touching you. It feels like weightless and silent. After a time, your skin begins to shrivel and you must avoid touching anything — the side of the pool, the bottom of it, yourself, other humans or objects, because you will find it’s possible to sweat while immersed in water. Otherwise, being completely wet is rather nice. Being damp is unpleasant. Damp is sticky, and your wet clothes prevent movement, it feels cold and clammy.

    Pain is bright orange.

  • Cobalt blue is a steel-like color that smells like rust and electricity, a pineapple is sweet and tart, lilies have a disctinct licorice scent of freshness like the meadows after a rainshower, the feeling of wet is feeling something is sticking, sensing your skin and pain is when something is or may bother you physically or mentally. It is true that describing simple things is not easy at all, you can consider having gorgeous and positively undescribable locks by trying velvet remi weaves.

  • Cobalt is cold and smells like metal, a pineapple is juicy and sweet, lilies are very fresh and they have gardeny feel, the feeling of wet is something annoying and pain is red and brutal.