Have you ever cringed on impulse when reading a book or watching a movie? Perhaps you could sense the slime coming off something blasted by the Ghostbusters or the smooth silk of a new tie. Tactile imagery appeals to the sense of touch and plays a large role in descriptive writing.
When used well, this rhetorical device can make readers' skin crawl or help them imagine the frigid air of an igloo. Below, we'll explore ten tactile imagery examples and see how you can employ them in your next story or poem.
Roll up your sleeves and get comfy. We're about to go on a sensory ride including stabs of pain, slobbers of puppy drool, and delicate wraps of cashmere warmth.
As I tumbled down the hill, the loose rocks raced alongside me, pricking my hands and face like a hundred tiny knives.
The little puppy accosted me as he slobbered my face with his wet and eager tongue.
I had no choice but to pet his cotton soft fur. I ruffled his floppy ears as he slapped his mink-soft paw into my hand.
She started to sweat so feverishly that, when she rose from the leather couch, her slippery skin stuck to it like a Command Strip.
The baby cactus appeared to have soft little spines that wouldn't hurt a fly. Turns out, one touch of those "soft little spines" will leave you with a bloodied finger!
She ran her hand across the dark, concrete wall. It was cold as ice. When she came to the middle of the room, she felt a thick, slimy substance actively oozing down the wall.
As she wiped the sweat from her brow, she realized her skin was just as cold and sticky.
The masseuse rubbed warm oil, scented with lavender, across her stress-riddled shoulders.
He picked up the ice cold fountain pen, the cool metal barrel resting against the side of his index finder, and sat down to write his last letter.
He wrapped the buttery soft cashmere throw around her shoulders and drew her close.
Sometimes, when calling upon the senses, it's beneficial to include a metaphor or simile. For example, "Her slippery skin stuck to the leather couch like a Command Strip." It helps to connect the sensation with a common item or image. For more on this rhetorical device, take a look at these Examples of Similes.
Writers do their best to lure readers into the story. That's why we love a good novel or script. We can step out of our everyday lives and into new adventures. As such, writers have to do more than describe a grassy knoll or mention the sound of crashing waves. There are many ways to develop a sense of imagery.
To wrap a reader in a story, writers can try to invoke the sense of touch. Is a surface soft or hard? Cold or hot? Is someone's winter coat wet or dry? Rough or smooth? These are the details that every writer should consider when painting a scene. Then, as the reader pages through their book or hits the play button on their streaming device, they're immediately immersed into a new world.
All in all, there are five types of imagery in literature. They are:
Visual Imagery - This is the most common form of imagery. It evokes vivid images of the characters and scenery. For example, "She had a yard of raven black hair."
Olfactory Imagery - This form of imagery calls to our sense of smell. For example, "She walked into the abandoned home and caught the scent of mothballs. The pungent odor immediately transported her back to her grandmother's attic, riddled with tattered leather jackets and walls of cardboard boxes."
Gustatory Imagery - This form of imagery has to do with our taste buds. For example, "As soon as the cilantro hit his tongue, it erupted into a flavor sensation achieved by only the finest salsa."
Auditory Imagery - This form of imagery calls to our sense of hearing. For example, "She opened the curtains wide as was met with an orchestra of birdsong."
Tactile Imagery - As we now know, this type of imagery deals with our sense of touch.
For a deeper dive, enjoy What Are the 5 Types of Imagery in Literature?
Have you always dreamed of writing your own short story or poem? All it takes is one solid idea. And no idea is bad if your prose is clean and you tell a fascinating tale of bravery and strength.
Start out by writing a scene - just one scene. Try to include an element of touch, whether it's a smooth iron shield or a soft length of lace. And when you're ready to create an entirely new world, take a look at Get Creative: How to Write a Short Story. May all your images and dreams come true.