Vivid description exercise


Well-Known Member
May 4, 2021
Sebastian, FL

I don't remember exactly where I read about this, but I find it a lot of fun to practice and get out of the habit of telling readers what to feel instead of making them feel something for themselves. Basically, you take an adjective and a noun (I randomly generate words to make it more challenging) and write up a vivid description that will elicit that adjective (for example, wild or angry).

Write a short description of the previous post's adjective and noun, and then add an adjective and noun for the next person!

I'll go ahead and go first:

Delicious potatoes.

Little golden triangles floated in a thick, dark gravy, like tiny sailboats. They fell apart when prodded with a fork, and savory steam escaped from within. Grandma's old recipe came out a bit different every time, but it never failed to warm my stomach as well as my heart.

And for the next person, ruthless winner.
Ruthless Winner

Most thought that musical chairs was won by quick reflexes and reaction speed. Maybe those qualities could get you far in this game, but Layla knew that winning required another skillset altogether. She circled the final chair opposite Jonas—a tough competitor who relied on his size to muscle the other kids out of contention. The music carried a cheerful tune that belied the true nature of this battle. Mrs Patterson always drew out the final round, milking the suspense.
The music stopped.
Jonas's eyes flashed with blind determination as he lunged for the chair like a toddler for his mummy. Layla knew she was no match for the boy's size. All it took was a subtle twist to line the chair's back-rest up with the boy's exposed throat. Jonas fell to the ground, crying, the way losers often do.
Layla slid into the winner's throne—another easy win.

(That was probably too long for what you had in mind for this exercise. Got a bit carried away.)

Hot Sauna
Hot Sauna

The stones screamed and droplets sizzled, as clouds of steam billowed up into the tight room. I struggled to breathe, felt the rasp of splinters under my arse. Sweat poured off my brow, stinging my eyes, salty on my lips. Enough of this torture, I pushed open the door letting the clouds flow, and dived into the ice water.

Ceremonial Dagger
Ceremonial Dagger

The priest had given the dagger a ladies name, Kris or Keris or something like that. Whatever it was seemed apt for a thing of beauty such as this. A delicate bone handle inlaid with fine gold in the shape of runic characters, Thai or Burmese in origin, but unlike any script I had ever seen in all my studies. A blade so exquisitely made it must have been the product of a master craftsman, each edge forged in a wavy pattern like the turbulent peaks in Hokusai's wood prints. Down the nape of the fuller yet more of those unusual characters that glowed with an unearthly iridescence in the light of the midday sun like oil on water.

It had a strange quality in the hand, not just in its weight for it was perfectly balanced between hilt and blade. There was a joy in the possession - some rare quality that drew the eye and fixed it there. In that moment I understood those crazed men who pillaged the wild and dangerous jungles of the South Americas in search of the legendary gold city. In that obsession, I wondered if I possessed the blade, or it had possessed me.

Eerie Painting
Eerie Painting

It wasn't so much the way the eyes followed me around the room; it was the way they glanced away, each time I looked in the direction of the painting. At first I thought the shimmery wash of blues and violets and gleaming whites was confusing my brain; then I noticed the eyes moving, and I thought after all, that was what my mind objected to the most. But I finally, suddenly saw it: something moving slowly here and there, just underneath the top layer of paint.

Next: Aching feet
Aching Feet

Her arches throbbed, her toes felt as though they'd been hammered and there was a blister the size of a dime on her left heel, long burst and raw. Her running shoes were soaked, ripped and ragged, spattered with mud and blood, pierced with thorns; still the bushes, the trees, the thistles and grass moved around her, twisting into ropy, reaching tendrils. She heaved in a huge, gasping sob of air and ran on.

Next: Cracked shield
Cracked shield

Thermobaric deflection panel ZB980 knew very little about the universe. The bits that it did know included a manufacturing plant, an interstellar vehicle, and knowledge that it was a proud thing to serve in Space Force. This was why it came as a surprise to experience searing heat. For 60,821 missions Thermobaric deflection panel ZB980 felt nothing when the molecules before it were smashed into thousands of degrees. But now was different. Spots of warmth quickly merged to something unbearable. Thermobaric deflection panel ZB980 did the only thing it could do. It fractured.

Next: Smelly armpit
Smelly Armpit

Cark gagged. "Smells like a giant's armpit up here."

Rolivan mumbled a response through a frilled handkerchief covering his mouth and nose. "Aye, it does that. Not even 'er ladyship's perfume can combat the reek." That was saying something. Lady Mumbath's collection of oils and scents was much talked about in the same way that a fifty foot raving ape frothing at the mouth and wearing a giant tutu is talked about: disapprovingly and accompanied by a recommendation to keep away. The sheer strength of the conflicting aromas leaking into the environment from her manor house had lead to a widespread crash in the value of the surrounding real estate.

"Ye Gods! It really gets in the eyes!"

Cark doubled over then, fell to his knees and scooched along the ground to rest against a large round, fleshy rock. Wait a second. Fleshy? That didn't sound right.

The ground here had formed into a shallow depression some fifty feet wide. Here the stench was strongest, buffeting them from every direction. Tall black reeds sprouted from a mushy floor covered with stagnant pools and clouds of foul smelling marsh gas.

"I don't know how much more of this I can stand, is it much further?"

An unholy and vengeful toaster oven
An unholy and vengeful toaster oven

'Smell that, whad'ya think, is it gone off?'
'I dunno Carol, sure give it a good blast in the oven and it'll be grand'.
BEKO CIFY81 knew what was coming next. Every Friday was the same. Fish.
A pair of greasy hands shoved the dead creature onto BEKO CIFY81's wire shelf.
If there was one thing BEKO CIFY81 hated more than fish, it was the creatures that ate it. Stupid animals, the lot of them. With their superstitious rules for existence:
Only eat fish on a Friday.
Chant at nothing.
Do not kill.
-Pure nonsense the lot of it.
BEKO CIFY81 wanted to vomit, but vomiting was not something it could do. BEKO CIFY81 decided instead to get revenge. And destroy humanity.
Seven days passed and once more BEKO CIFY81 found itself smelling a dead fish.
It was time.
BEKO CIFY81 quickly scanned it's weaponry:
A thermostat.
A heating element.
And a fan.
BEKO CIFY81 felt victory would be inevitable.
'Barry, the oven's switched itself off'
'What, are ya serious?, we've only had it a month ...ah, to hell with it, I'm gonna bring it back and get another one.'

Next: Temperamental Headlamp
My headlamp flickered and cut out for the third time that night just as my run took me across the chewed-up pavement outside the disused chocolate factory. I slowed, gasping for breath, and stopped when I reached the first working streetlight. I took the headlamp off. The thin orange elasticated headband it was attached to was clammy with sweat and fraying with age. It dragged unpleasantly at my hair.

The light itself was a thick disk made of some black rubbery plastic that attracted lint like a magnet. Behind the scratched lense I could see the ribbed silver inverted cone of the reflector, and an tiny old-fashioned screw-thread filament bulb. No LEDs or whatever it is they use nowadays. The bulb looked fine. So I unthreaded lamp from headband and opened up the back.

Inside: thin, silver discs of three watch batteries, recently changed. The spring on the circular lid, the contact immediately behind the bulb- a bit corroded but otherwise OK. Then I noticed a thin metal strip that was bent out of shape- the negative end of the batteries would no longer connect to the circuit once the lid was closed. My breath steaming around my face in the streetlight, I used my house keys to tweeze the strip back to where it should have been. Put it all back together, pressed the switch, and watched the bulb spring back to life, flickering slightly. It would do. It would have to.

Next: Wary fox.
Baldig Undelbunt took his time. He sat for several minutes before opening the capsule. The handle was cool when he did.

Two eyes slunk backwards into the heather.
Their owner was thinking one thing.

Baldig stretched his legs. Planetfall was the worst part of the job. He was used to the impact of a touchdown, but his flabby body still ached.

Two eyes watched as he wobbled.
Their owner was thinking one thing.

Baldig produced small disc from a fold of skin. He grumbled into the disc in Blartangian. If his grumbling was in English, it would have been as follows:
'Special Agent Undelbunt reporting -guess what? there are two humans approaching the allegedly uninhabited landing site, I want it recorded that I'm pissed off, and that this is the last recon mission I'm doing for ye'

Two ears listened as he grumbled.
Their owner was thinking one thing.

Baldig ended his communication and ducked into the heather. His stumpy legs stumbled as he moved. One of the torches aimed light in his direction.

‘What the f*ck was that?’
‘Whadya think? It’s a fox, the country’s alive with the fupping things ...c’mon, the match’ll be starting, there’s nothing out here’
‘But what about the fire over there, I’ve never seen anything like that stuff smouldering in it -it looks like a miniature rocket, d’ya think it’s a military experiment gone wrong’
‘a military experiment? tell ya what TJ, why don’t we send it off to the lab, huh, who ‘dya think ya are, Fox Moulder? …it’s scumbag townies burning their rubbish on the bog is what it is –if it makes ya happy we can come back up tomorrow night with the shotgun –that’ll put a stop to it’

Two nostrils sniffed in the heather.
Their owner was thinking of one thing.

'maybe we should have another look around, I'm telling ya, I swear I saw a meteor hit the ground ...and that stuff in the fire, the writing on it's like something outta star trek'
'you'd wanna cop on and stay off the internet, star trek huh? You're dilithium crystals must be on the blink, better get some pints in quick, c'mon, I'm outta here'

A drop of saliva traced it's way down a canine tooth.
It's owner was thinking of one thing.

Baldig Undelbunt stepped out from the heather and grumbled into a disc. He hadn't finished complaining. He could've been killed and was going to make damn sure control knew all about it.

Two eyes picked out a soft spot on his flesh.
Their owner was thinking of only one thing.

If the fox had a Wikipedia account, and cared to contribute, it would've typed the following entry:
Blartangian flesh is delicious, and tastes a lot like chicken. Mind the lumpy bits though. They'll give ya fierce indigestion.

The fox, however, is much too carefull for that. It keeps things to itself. Unlike what Blartangian recon specialist Undelbunt used to do.

Next: A grumpy teaspoon ...also the name of one of the kids schoolbooks, so will be cool to read a Sci-Fi twist on the title;)
*tink, tink, tink*

I shouldn't exist. An A.I. for a teaspoon? Ridiculous. One hundred and forty degrees, by the way. Optimum temperature for Encha ceremonial-grade organic matcha green tea. As if anyone cared. But I exist, so I thermo-regulate and I report and I agitate, I sift and molecular-align and I tidal-stream. What thanks do I get? Every so often picked up, whirled around a bone, kaolin and feldspathic material china cup and then my head bashed against the rim as if that would he-

*tink, tink, tink*

Next: Dirty window
Ray traced a finger over the glass pulling years of muck and dirt in its wake, then peered through the gap.

Nothing. The interior of the old 'witch' house was enveloped in a thick darkness. The layers of accumulated dirt blocked what little of the day's light remained. Soon, it would be as dark outside as in, and that's when the wolfin came.

There had to be a way inside.

The window was old, possibly victorian, and double hung. Each pane barely larger than his hand - six to a sash with a plane wooden grille holding them in place. The wood was stained dark oak to match the coal-blasted brickwork; old but still in serviceable condition with no sign of rot. Like the rest of the window it was caked in filth and green shoots grew from the joins in the masonry. It was incredible to think it hadn't been vandalised by travellers like himself, seeking refuge from the night's terrors.

The glass, itself, had begun to sag so it wobbled as he pushed. One good shove ought to do it. He paused. Could he afford the noise of breaking glass? Would the window give him away?

Next: Sentient Butter
-'There, take that with ya, if ya smear yourself in it you might slip into something resembling humanity'.
The hatch closed with a heavy clank, and machinery whirred briefly before two faint explosions signalled the release. Sam took stock of the interior. It did not take long.
  • One hexagonal porthole.
  • One seat with a harness.
  • One digital display showing the estimated time to reentry (eighty seconds).
  • A copy of Space Force code of ethics.
  • And the stick of butter that had just been fired into the escape pod with her.
-'Don't look so sad, it's probably for the best we both ended up in here'
Sam reviewed her findings to see if she had missed a speaker in the list. She then floated over to the porthole to see if the sound was coming from outside '...when you eliminate the probably, what you are left with however improbable is the truth must be coming from outside'.
-'Wrong and wrong, Sam, the voice is coming from inside. I know you've just got a kicking from the rest of the crew, but it's pretty stupid to think of someone chatting to you from outside the window of a space capsule'
The stick of butter was now on the seat.
-'Don't worry, I'll give ya the seat back in a minute -we'll be hitting the atmosphere in forty eight seconds and once we do it's gonna get pretty hot in here'
Sam took a brief moment to take in what she was hearing.
-'Anyway, I was talking to a bag of onions in the galley, and they were saying that the engine module has a progressive fracture, and life support systems will fail in a matter of hours'
The capsule shuddered. Sam felt the temperature increase.
-'So, if ya think about it, you lucked out -every single witness to your crime will shortly be dead, and you are now free to start a new life on the planet below, and from what I've heard it's a pretty nice place to live'.
The butter had softened round the edges, and was shrinking into a pool of yellow liquid.
-'As far as I know they haven't invented margarine down there either, so you'll be eating well ...anyway, good to have met ya Sam, it's time for me to die'
The digital display flashed red and blinked the words 'Prepare for landing'. Sam sat into the seat and strapped on the harness. Droplets of butter floated into the air as she did.
-'ugh, only one seat and it's covered in warm butter ...just my luck', she muttered.

A nervous hammer.
"Ooh, careful there! Watch your thumb!"

Benjamin Tinker had some regrets about paying a witch to enchant his tools. He had no complaints about their supernatural accuracy and durability, he just hadn't realised they would be quite so chatty. Take this hammer, for instance. It was a humble little ball-peen hammer which Benjamin used for such jobs as beating old kettles back into shape. The shaft was just a straight rod of hickory, stained dark with sweat, unshaped except for the gouges where old splinters had been ripped free. The head was steel, but not of especially high quality- chipped and pitted from wear and tear before the witch worked her magic on it. It had a strange, blueish-black gleam to it now. There were two ends to the head: a flat one, for hammering nails, and a rounded one for shaping metal. Whichever end was being used, a little mouth would open in the other one and offer unwanted advice in a high, thin, rather whiny voice. "Are you suuuuuure you want to hit it there? The metal does look awfully thin. If you break it you won't be able to sell it- pleeeeaaase be careful!" This got rather tedious.

Rampant Lichen.
“Oh my god.”

As she stepped out of the shuttle, the myriad of swirling colors that she saw on the planet surface during descent now surrounded her in a dizzying sea of undulating hues. The surface of every tree and rock was covered in patches of color that moved and meshed into one another. As far as she could see, the surface of the planet was alive with kaleidoscopic motion.

As if breaking from a daydream, she glanced down and noticed these patches were slowly spreading onto the shuttle landing. She knelt to take a closer look and saw that each color was made up of small, fanlike dendritic scales that overlapped each other as they spread across the surface, creating a shingled crust. Like a million hair-thin spider legs, a front of wispy dendrites proceeded each scale, probing the surface ahead of each expanding scale. Tentative at first, the scales inched across the landing toward her; however, she could see that its growth speed was increasing, so she slowly started her retreat up the landing.

As she backed through the threshold into the shuttle, she was mesmerized by the advancing carpet of color, unaware of the descending variegated curtain behind her.

Blind Demon
Laura Gillespie was worried. She was convinced she was having a heart attack. Thirty seconds earlier she had been delighted. The fact that her butcher had some cow tongue that nobody wanted, and that she could take with her for free, was great news.
Now the smell of sulphur was wafting through her nostrils. And the shop was growing dark. A black figure floated in through the screen door and stood next to her at the counter. Bone and sinew melted and reformed as the figure throbbed with shallow breaths. Every intake seemed to suck light from the room. Every exhalation oozed with the smell of rotten egg. An arm reached towards her. At the end of the arm was a bony hand. At the end of the bony hand was a bony finger.
It's colour was the opposite of light. Laura waited for her soul to be claimed. Just as she thought her race was run the finger turned and pointed behind the counter. Poor old Gary, he had returned with the tongue to face death.
'You', hissed the figure, 'I'll have a curry chipss and a batter burger'.
'This is a butchers'.
'Sssorry mate, my missstake'.

Hyperactive Moonbeam
Hyperactive Moonbeam:

Moonlight danced across the inky waters of Houghlahoupe Bay. And when I say it "danced," I mean it. Kopek, New Croatia's only moon, is tiny, very close, very bright and locked in a tight binary orbit with a lentil-sized black hole left by some long-dead alien civilisation. As it tears its hour-long streak from horizon to horizon, silver Kopek whirls dizzily in circles around its hidden companion. It has been known to cause seizures. On that long night on Houghlahoupe Bay, the sky was clear and the wind was high, whipping the waves into criss-crossing moire patterns. The moonlight scribed a gleaming road across the sharp wave-crests to the horizon, but a road in constant motion. It swept from west to east, but with a maniac jittering, a two-steps forwards, one-step-back. I found I could not look away from the erratically strobing sea, though the dance of dazzling points hurt my eyes. It was a relief when the moon set, but when it rose again I found I was glad of the distraction, that long night of waiting for the news from the dying ship.

Unobtrusive skyscraper.
Grey and anonymous, the skyscraper stood nondescript in the sterile uniformity of its surrounding architectural clones just like a blade of grass in a lush meadow on a still day or one of a thousand dowel rods evenly ranked in a sandpit.

Recalcitrant duck.

Similar threads