Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Writing With All of Your Senses

When I write, I tend to rely on vision, touch and hearing.

This helps me conceptualize the world my character experiences. I imagine the hazy sky as she tramps through the woods in the early morning and the way the long grass brushes against her legs as she walks. I can almost hear the rustling of her clothing and the birds calling to each other in the distance. By imagining myself in the situation, it's usually easy to find ways to describe sounds, sights and what my character feels.

I find I'm less likely to think about tastes and smells without remembering to work at it. This surprises me, since smells and tastes are a huge part of my life. I'm usually the first in my household to notice the reek of the garbage or the soured milk.

Have you ever examined your writing to see which of the five senses you include the most when you write? Which one(s) do you have to work at?

10 comments:

  1. Vision and hearing definitely come first and most easily. Probably touch next. You're right - taste and smell get short shrift but are so important!

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  2. I love writing with taste, but that's probably because I like to eat and I'm constantly thinking about my next meal. Ha!

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  3. Sight is my first for sure. Smell probably second. I think maybe touch is where I short shrift the most - even kissing scenes, I tend to use smell and taste more than touch.

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  4. Sight first, touch second, and sound third. I've been better about adding smells but I always forget taste! Maybe because my mother was an artist and my father was a mechanical engineer, I'm always thinking about materials. When my character is in a room, I have a fault of pointing out what is made of wood, cotton, stainless steel, styrofoam, etc.

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    1. Hmm. Maybe my artist mother is why I'm always overdoing my colour descriptions.

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  5. This is so interesting since I'm really starting really concentrate on the smell sense. It's the one I least use. When I read a smell sense in a novel, it really captures the moment.

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  6. Yes, they're all so important. Taste seems to be the rarest because it USUALLY only operates when the POV character is eating.

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    1. Google seems to be working on blogger lately, so I really don't mean to reply to Marcia's comment, but it's the only way I can get any sort of comment in here at all today--I've tried several times on your site, Andrea. Anyway, when I teach writing one of my favorite pieces I have kids work on is the one involving senses. Their reactions concerning descriptions when asked to focus on the five senses is cool to experience. Things like, "Wow. I can really feel that room," or "I am ON that beach."

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    2. Barbara, sorry you're having issues. Let's hope Google fixes it. I didn't know I had this cool comment reply feature until you mentioned it.

      It's so neat when something you teach gets kids to think and notice. I love the way my Kindergarteners are so curious about the world--it gives me a different perspective on the senses.

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    3. Good point, Marcia. I suppose there are other circumstances when taste would be involved, e.g. getting a bad taste in your mouth after rain or wind blows in your face. Probably others I've never thought to include in a story.

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