Texture – another form of shadow

Okay, I’ll admit to being a bit stumped on this post. I had an idea, but I’m gonna save that one for my next post because…well, you’ll see why.

I normally don’t have a problem coming up with a post for the monthly theme, but texture? What on earth would I say (that hasn’t been said already in this very new month)?

And then something came to me. We’ve kinda-sorta covered this before. I had to go back to October 2015 (almost a year ago) to find it, but I did. My post on shadows.

Wait, isn’t texture something you feel? Well, yes, but others this week have already proven this statement to be a little bit misleading. Sure, fabrics have texture, and so does pottery. But so does painting. We don’t touch paintings, do we? (At least we shouldn’t, all those oils on our fingers. And if you’re at a museum, well, just don’t.) But I don’t think anybody would argue paintings don’t have texture.

What gives them that texture? Shadows.

(I’m so proud of myself, tying two themes, almost a year apart, together.)

We writers create auditory texture with the sound of words. We create visual texture (if we’re luck/good) by creating a picture in our readers’ minds. And part of that texture is darkness. Not always, mind you. Some textures, some books, use light and a lot of it. But we write a lot of mystery here. And if you look back through the ages at the mystery greats – Christie, Chandler, et. al. – they all have a very important aspect of texture.


Readers, do you have a favorite book that uses shadow to create texture?

Mary Sutton/Liz Milliron | @mary_sutton73


Author: Liz Milliron

Liz Milliron has been making up stories, and creating her own endings for other people's stories, for as long as she can remember. She survived growing up through reading, cutting her mystery teeth on Agatha Christie, Mary Higgins Clark and, of course, Nancy Drew. As an adult, she finds escape from the world of software documentation through creating her own fictional murder and mayhem. She lives near Pittsburgh with her husband and two teenage children, and fantasizes about owning a dog again - one of these days.

6 thoughts on “Texture – another form of shadow”

  1. Texture is a tough theme, Mary, but I’m really enjoying all the posts so far! Shadows make me think of noir–the contrast between good and evil and how easily that line can be crossed, often shown with the help of shadows. Tana French brilliantly uses shadows to create texture, although I’d never thought of it that way till now! Great post!


  2. I can’t think of any specific books with shadows, but tons of TV and movies. I’m a few episodes into ‘Stranger Things’ which I think of as ‘X-Files meets Stand By Me’ and the shadows, oooh the shadows. I remarked to hubs, “Why do they only search for the kid at night?”

    And kudos, Mary, for the thematic tie-in!


  3. I’m sure I’m not the only one who has noticed the heavy use of shadow in recent TV/movie making. Ever notice how serious/ominous scenes don’t happen in broad daylight? We stumbled upon a show last night – Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell (I think) – where there is a lot of shadow use to create the gothic texture of the show. Magic in 1900s England.

    And all those old black and white noir films! I’m thinking of Casablanca right now (I don’t know if that’s truly noir or not). Oh, and The Maltese Falcon.

    Becky, my daughter loved “Stranger Things” and recommends it very highly.


  4. Mary, terrific balance!

    As I sit here thinking of examples, it occurs to me that most of what I’m coming up with are English authors. From Christie to J.K. Rowling. At least we had Mary Roberts Rhinehart. I wonder if weather has anything to do with writing shadows well?


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