Texture is a term applied to the elements remaining in a literary work after a paraphrase of its argument has been made. Among such elements are details of situation, metaphor, meter, imagery, rhyme. The separation of texture and structure has been a strategy employed by John Crowe Ransom and some others among the New Critics. (A Handbook to Literature)
Craft Study: A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
Once upon a time and a very good time it was there was a moocow coming down along the road and this moocow that was coming down along the road met a nicens little boy named baby tuckoo…
His father told him that story: his father looked at him through a glass: he had a hairy face.
He was baby tuckoo. The moocow came down the road where Betty Byrne lived: she sold lemon platt.
O, the wild rose blossoms
On the little green place.
He sang that song. That was his song.
O, the green wothe botheth.
When you wet the bed first it is warm then it gets cold. His mother put on the oilsheet. That had the queer smell.
His mother had a nicer smell than his father. She played on the piano the sailor’s hornpipe for him to dance. He danced:
Uncle Charles and Dante clapped. They were older than his father and mother but uncle Charles was older than Dante.
Dante had two brushes in her press. The brush with the maroon velvet back was for Michael Davitt and the brush with the green velvet back was for Parnell. Dante gave him a cachou every time he brought her a piece of tissue paper.
The Vances lived in number seven. They had a different father and mother. They were Eileen’s father and mother. When they were grown up he was going to marry Eileen. He hid under the table. His mother said:
—O, Stephen will apologize.
—O, if not, the eagles will come and pull out his eyes.—
Pull out his eyes,
Pull out his eyes.
Pull out his eyes,
Pull out his eyes,
(A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce)
Choose an excerpt of work you’ve already written. Using Joyce’s example, create verse or choose verse from the public domain that adds depth, mood, atmosphere, etc. to your chosen excerpt. Intermittently add lines to your narration. Notice how Joyce uses verse and lyrical language to create rhythm in the first section.
Once the verse has been added to your excerpt, study the addition. Does the verse add an ironic twist. For instance, lyrics from a child’s song can add an ironic atmosphere to a darker scene. Does the verse provide a more subtle background while deepening characterization—e.g., Baby Tuckoo’s dance and lyrics put the reader in the mind of Baby Tuckoo. The experience is immersive and sensory rich.
You might decide to revise the entire excerpt so that the verse and the prose weave more seamlessly into each other. You might decide to keep the verse as is. However you decide to add texture to your scenes, it will be sure to engage your reader on a deeper level.
Submit to Eckleburg
We accept previously unpublished and polished prose up to 8,000 words year round, unless announced otherwise. We are always looking for tightly woven short works under 2,000 words and short-shorts around 500 words. No multiple submissions but simultaneous is fine as long as you withdraw the submission asap through the submissions system. During the summer and winter months, we run our Writers Are Readers, Too, fundraiser when submissions are open only to subscribers. During the fall and spring, we open submissions for regular unsolicited submissions.
Note: We consider fiction, poetry and essays that have appeared in print, online magazines, public forums, and public access blogs as already being published. Rarely do we accept anything already published and then only by solicitation. We ask that work published at Eckleburg not appear elsewhere online, and if republished in print, original publication credit is given to The Doctor T. J. Eckleburg Review. One rare exception is our annual Gertrude Stein Award, which allows for submissions of previously published work, both online and print. Submit your work.
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- The Norton Introduction to Philosophy. Gideon Rosen and Alex Byrne.
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- Woe is I: The Grammarphobe’s Guide to Better English in Plain English. Patricia T. O’Conner
- Writing Fiction: A Guide to Narrative Craft. Janet Burroway, Elizabeth Stuckey-French & Ned Stuckey-French.
- Writing the Other. Nisi Shawl and Cynthia Ward.