"What" Writing - Umbrella

Day 3/5 of describing things! Today’s object is “umbrella”. Remember that the exercise is one of sensory description, so please don’t tell us things, show them to us. It can be helpful to write the seven senses in front of you for when you need a nudge.


I feel the moisture in my hair as the shower begins to sprinkle. Along the street umbrellas spring open like blossoming flowers, broadcasting their various colours to a largely unobservant world. Mine is obstructed by the release catch, stuck in its cheap plasticy groove. My thumb gets an unwelcome pinch as it hurries it out. The ribbed canopy emerges from its cocoon and captures the rhythm of the rain with its increasing tempo.

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The odoriferous ozone strangles my nostrils as the quiet “plip”, “plip”, “plip” transforms into a roaring hum on the portable purple polyester rooftop plastered with some random trademark gifted from a booth located in a congested conference hall long ago. The fractured metallic rib support dangles in front of my face creating a concave collapse permitting the perpetual precipitation to plummet down, attacking the sidewalk and my shoes. Soaked and cold below my knee, my toes squish against the cold, unfeeling faux leather of discount store shoes. The button is cracked and no longer commands the canopy. It exists only to snag my fingertips. As I reach the door, this useless shelter captures the sudden gale and drunkenly stumbles to the alley. Now, it is the proud problematic possession of the homeless man whose saturated cardboard box could use some assistance.

Since we are focusing on showing not telling, what if you used a metaphor instead of a simile in that second sentence? Something like “Along the streets protective blossoming flowers spring open…”. That way, you still get the “spring” and “flowers” connection, but you are embracing that imagery to its fullest. It sounds like we both have problems with the opening mechanism of umbrellas causing injuries! Ha. Very relatable.

I really like how you captured the crescendo of sound in particular. And then the soggy shoes are painted very relatably!

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Yea I agree the full metaphor would be stronger here - excellent feedback thank you!

Icy cold droplets of refracted light arc upwards and join their compatriots for the last stretch of freefall. A stray raindrop splashes off my tongue, tasting of fresh air. The fabric overhead thuds with the cascading downpour. The air around me grows alive, desperately using it’s ethereal hands to steal my small shelter.

The memory of pinching a finger really grounded me in the scene. Also, I enjoyed the “blossoming flower” image!

All of your descriptions are very sensory focused, but
“Soaked and cold below my knee, my toes squish against the cold”
in particular resonated with me and brought me immediately into the scene. I wonder if that sentence would still work as the first line?


I squint through the fluorescent street lights at the damp sidewalk. Reflective puddles start to form around my shoes. I pull out my umbrella, it’s accordion folds stretch open to shield me from the oozing sky. My umbrella is inky black, casting a dark spell over me as I splash down the sidewalk. I watch the way water spills down around me in a protective sphere. I feel like a kid again, splashing in rubber boots, casting spells, and gliding down the street cloaked in my own world.

I love the alliteration, it reads very musically. Love the ending as well, the umbrella “drunkenly stumbles” into the alley, great personification that gives a mundane object a life of its own

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I love the words “ethereal hands” to personify wind

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Great input. I bet it would. i wasn’t really thinking of any order, just kind of freewriting, but that is definitely something to remember if I pursue this idea further. Thank you!

I really dig that last line, you can feel the wind shift and the umbrella becoming useless! Great job!

First of all, oozing sky is wonderful, especially when contrasted with the iridescent puddles mentioned prior. The word play at the end is done really well to place the listener in that internal feeling of reliving your childhood (it sent me right to remembering playing a witch in the rain, so I associated a “cloak” with a witch (who casts spells)). One thing to consider, rather that saying “my umbrella is inky black” you could consider using more imagery to show instead of tell. By using something like “this convex shadow” or something along those lines, you still get the sense of what you are talking about without flatout saying “black umbrella”. Great job!

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The rain begins its assault, barely a tickle at first. I give it no mind at first but as it beats harder I shield myself a bit more. My backpack is becoming drenched as the rain beats harder. As I become soaked and uncomfortable my mind wanders from my well being to the well being of all I have in my backpack. Journals, soaked, textbooks ruined, electronics? Oh god thousands of dollars of electronics. I’ve invested so much and here I am about to lose it all stuck in the rain. Suddenly the rain stops. I realize I’m shielded by an umbrella before I notice the person carrying it. They offer me an umbrella they assure me they got free of cost. I desperately accept.

O umbrella
My journey is safe
My kit shall dry
Under your embrace

Thin drops, resembling a water mist, that thickens up in just a few seconds. A silent arrival, but now that it’s here it’d be hard to miss it’s fast paced steps on the marquee where people take cover, the well prepared move along, like a stream of ants rushing back to the colony. I clutch my backpack close to my body, a pink, small, flower patterned umbrella, a friend. Rapid and combined footsteps, sneakers getting heavier by the minute from all the soaked up water, my drenched toes and that squish sound, my socks will, soon enough, be glued to the arch of my feet rendering me claustrophobic. Are there umbrellas for feet?

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I love the life you have injected into the environment here. And nice use of onomatopoeia with such a percussive word as “thud”.

I hadn’t associated the word accordion with an umbrella before - I love it when you make those sorts of connections for the first time! I really like how you have created this whole little world underneath the umbrella, and added this level of enchantment with the spells. Lovely stuff!

Tickle is a fantastic word to engage our senses! You’ve set a really good scene, and I related to that dread of having your books and laptop soaked, and just trying to get to your destination as quickly as possible. You sometimes slip into telling territory rather than showing so remember to keep tight to your senses at all times. A nice little epilogue at the end!