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What is the best way to describe a woman's lips without being cliche? I can't help but think "pillow" or "pouty" but that's wrong. I looked through all the synonyms for words like thick, plump or voluptuous but they just don't fit. How would you describe it in a way that may not be a singular word?

For context he's staring at a picture of her from several years ago on his phone and describing her face with a sense of nostalgia

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  • Pillow? "She had lips that reminded him of a pillow. A big soft fluffy pillow. He had only one desire, let his head sink into the woman's lips, wrap himself in a quilt, and succumb to slumber." Or is there a meaning of "pillow" that I'm not aware of?
    – Stef
    Aug 2, 2023 at 18:34

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You can go with not the looks but emotion or memory. If they used to be lovers, then he remembers how her lips felt to touch in a kiss, so feel free to go for "soft", "gentle", "eager", "shy", "playful", "coarse" (because not every woman's lips are well moistured, some are dry and cracked to blood)... Whether they were lovers or not, you can for instance focus on her typical face expression... Details about characters' looks are one of the least interesting things you can describe if they don't have a meaning that matters to the story. So make sure you show the meaning, don't worry about measuring her lip in milimetres!

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Its good to ground the character reactions in solid tangible qualities -- like the woman's lips and eyes. That is a good instinct for writing. So well done, you.

The single best way I can think of to avoid being cliché is to write the description from the experience of the viewpoint character. Sharing the desires and regrets, the sense of hope or defeat, or whatever conflicting feelings this photograph evokes. That was if you end up using pillowy love cushions or some other horrid description the reader won't really notice since they'll be imaging someone's lips from their own life.

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    that's a great idea. I need to remember I'm talking from his perspective. Thanks! Jul 27, 2023 at 23:09

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