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May 19, 2016

Everyone Knows an Ant Can't... Using the Senses when Writing #MFRWorg #Thursdayblog #amwriting

Lift a rubber tree plant! From the old song “High Hopes” (Frank singing You Tube) 

But we’re not here today to talk about an ant being strong. Have you ever just sat and watched an ant scurry about? Or watch a leaf by the toe of your shoe in great detail? And then note the colors, the smells -- truly becoming immersed in the object?

Or sitting in a coffee shop and seeing a hunky cyclist at a table tying his shoe laces bunny ear style. You make note of his pro-looking outfit. The sweat dripping from his forehead. His scruffy beard. (Oh my, I’m finding my imaginary guy desirable!)

Writing details is important because it relays senses to the readers and invests them emotionally.

The five senses are: Tasting, Hearing, Smelling, Feeling, Seeing. From “The Five Senses” by Dr.William K. Pediaopolis (Senses),  we have this definition: "A system that consists of a group of sensory cell types that responds to a specific physical phenomenon, and that corresponds to a particular group of regions within the brain where the signals are received and interpreted."

The five senses have to be incorporated into our writing. Otherwise, our work is boring, even lifeless, unresponsive. Who would want to read that?

Tasting–Enables us to distinguish food choices. Say, I bought a slice of lemon
pound cake. It’s the color of yellow daffodils and has a bit of white, nearly translucent, icing dribbled over the top. When I take a bite, the sharp lemon hits my tongue in a pleasing way, followed by the sweet sugary frosting. Both flavors complement each other. I like the taste so much, I want to make it last forever and chew slowly.

Hearing-is about the sounds we distinguish. Perhaps, the coffee shop uses real mugs and our imaginary cyclist knocks his against a plate. The ring from that hit captures our ear, and we turn to see who made the noise. Suppose there is a lot of hustle and bustle in the store and all the comings and goings distract us. There’s the snap of a newspaper. The zip from a laptop case. The scuffing of shoes. Someone sneezing.

Smelling-Enables us to distinguish odors. As Mr. Cyclist carries his brew to the table, a breeze pushes a whiff from the coffee toward us, teasing our nose and we have to have a drink now! The scent of coffee is greatly appealing to many people, but maybe not to others. Taste is tied with Smell.

Feeling-Distinguishing the quality of bodies. Back to the lemon pound cake—I touch the corner to break it off and feel the crisp outside edge. As I pull my section away, little crumbles fall to dot my plate. I press my finger to the crumbles. They are soft and light.

Seeing-Mr. Biker has finished his drink. I watch him push his mug and plate to one side. He drops the balled paper napkin on top of the empty plate. He bends over and reties his shoe in the bunny ear fashion.

In college, I took an Art Appreciation class. One of the assignments was to find a spot and observe for twenty minutes. I sat upstairs in an area which overlooked the gathering spot below. I noted the color of the furniture-blue, but not navy blue, fabric with silvery specks. And off to one side sat a guy from one of my classes. I watched him read and occasionally, glance up when someone passed by. He wore jeans, not too faded, and a white button down shirt. His hair was nearly black and had a wave.

Sounds stalker-ish? LOL. The purpose of the class was to heighten our awareness for when we studied paintings. To note details.

Writing details can make the work sing, but too many can cause a book to be tossed aside. Writers have to have a good balance in their work.

As a reader, do you notice when a writer uses the senses? As a writer do you use some senses and not the others?

Pretty soon, Hattie will be up to new tricks in Temporarily Insane. For more information, go to: Amazon



Kat said...

Great post! Using the senses can be such fun, especially when we consider how everyone reacts differently. I always remember being at our fair and loving the smells in the animal barns while others with their hands over their faces scurried to get out of the building as fast as they could. :)

Vicki Batman, sassy writer said...

Hi, Kathryn! And while you are smelling, I was studying the animals. Once, a young girl was pillowing her head on the side of her show pig. True love!

Sylvia said...

I enjoy just a touch of the senses in a book, but if you go overboard with the details of how the room looks...I get bored. I want the emotion and the action of a story. Yet you need the senses thrown in like you're seasoning your favorite dish. It just adds to the flavor of the book. Great post Vicki!!

Vicki Batman, sassy writer said...

Hi, Sylvia! I like your analogy of adding seasoning. Sprinkle it in, but don't go overboard. Good stuff!

Cathy McElhaney said...

Great post! I really never paid much attention, but as you were describing the events, my senses were engaged...I tasted the cake, saw the hunk (why was he drinking coffee if he was sweating so bad??), heard the noises...well, you get the idea! Now I have to go over my WIPs and see if I added senses to them!

Vicki Batman, sassy writer said...

Hi, Cathy! I'm glad I was of big help. I guess my hunk was partly based on Handsome who drinks coffee even when sweating, even when 100 degrees. LOL

Joanne Guidoccio said...

Excellent post, Vicki! Like Cathy, I experienced all the senses while reading. :)

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