Writing Assignment: Describe the Taste of Water

by Randy Murray on April 26, 2013

Mastering description is one of the most difficult writing skills and it must be continually reinforced and relearned. The skilled writer can weave descriptions of objects, place, even people into a story in such a way that the reader is never removed from the narrative stream. Others may offer descriptions of such beauty that it causes the reader to pause and relish the turn of phrase.

But many find it difficult to add just enough, just the right level of details to give the reader not only what they need to know, but a deeper sense of time, place, rhythm, and tone. The only way to master this skill is to practice, and practice daily.

A practice exercise for this skill should stretch the writer’s imagination and abilities. In today’s assignment, write a brief piece describing the taste of water. In its purest form, distilled, water has no taste at all, but that absence of taste can be described. Water often contains minerals and hints of tastes, making it an indicator of a specific place, a specific experience.

This is one assignment that you should repeat often, just the way a pianist practices the scales.

Here’s my example:

Before we got “city water” I never thought much about the taste of water from our well. But once the line was laid in past our house and connected to the kitchen faucet, the difference was more than clear.

I’d had water from other places before, but here, at the sink, I could tell. Our well water, supposedly pure, tasted distinctively flat. Some combination of minerals and sediments, the same ones that caused the washing machine to corrode quickly and lime to build up on the shower head, made that water seem as if it had been pooled in that hole in the ground for ages.

Compared to the chlorine-freshness of the water from the city line, our water was now only good for the outside spigot, for washing the vehicles and watering the plants. A sip from the hose would remind me again. This water had been in the ground, not in some plant or factory.

Originally published December 10th, 2010

The Writing Assignment: Describe the Taste of Water by Randy Murray, unless otherwise expressly stated, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

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