Synonyms for “open” or “exposed” pages on a table?

Here is my sentence:

The pungent smell of all the different pages exposed gave a pleasing coat to the chaos.

I feel as if “different pages open” would work better than exposed, but still that feels too informal and lazy. This is an important emotional description in the writing so I want to be as precise as possible.

“Pages” refers to textbooks, notes, and homework. I am open to hearing sentence variations!


Since you’re going for an “important emotional description”, I think that gives you some pretty significant leeway in your written imagery. The answer to this will probably be heavy on opinion and light on strict definitions.

So you’re trying to describe a bunch of pages scattered about. Presumably this is a scattering of open books, because you say “pages” and not “papers”. I spent a few minutes brainstorming.

I started out with some easy ones, related to “exposed”:

The pungent smell of all the naked pages . . .
The pungent smell of all the open books, all the bared pages . . .
The pungent smell of all the books, scattering their pages across the table . . .

Then I thought about maybe expanding upon “pungent” to further explore the open pages:

Open books were scattered haphazardly across the table, suffused with the heady aromas of old leather, dusty pages, and a sickly-sour whisper of cheap ink. It reminded me of [something familiar or nostalgic, to explain why this is pleasant.]

At this point, I realized that the length of this sentence could get out of control pretty easily. So maybe split it up into a couple of sentences? Or, hey, go nuts with a whole paragraph. Maybe that’ll give us a chance to chop up our purple prose into something more easily digestible.

Uncountable books were scattered across the table, a chaos of sights and smells. Large tomes, bound in old leather and silver filigree. Yellowed paper, naked to the world, exposing unabashedly their dusty faces tattooed with soured inks. Aged pages, salting the air with their slow and patient decay.

. . . and so on.

I’m not sure why I pictured big old books. Maybe your scene is different. My point is, if you’re really going to emphasize this as a big dramatic thing, go big! Go dramatic! Don’t try to cram everything into one big clumsy phrase, and don’t try to limit yourself by trying to “be as precise as possible.” Your readers know what books smell like. (Especially if they’re actually reading this in a book.) Choose words that expand upon what they already know.

As an aside, isn’t there a writer’s Stack Exchange around here somewhere? You might ask there, too.

Source : Link , Question Author : Al-Sabti , Answer Author : EightyEighty

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