Monday, March 7, 2011

The senses

  Since HTDA is finished I've gone back to my "for fun" novel called IMPERFECT about a Colorado Pizzeria employee and a snowboarding gold medalist.  But when I start a new novel there are a few things that I like to do as I open that new word document.  I have to stimulate my senses...

Sight:  Visual inspirations are very important for us writers.  Since our readers can't actually "see" what we see, we have to descibe it so that they will be able to see those same things that we picture.  For a contemporary novel, I like to google the place that I've set my novel in and look at some of the houses, restaurants, and other locations in that area.  I may have  made up the actual town, but it's usuall based in fact.

Hearing:  I've heard it many differant ways:  some writers need complete silence to write, some like the hustle and bustle of noises around a coffee shop, and some like to plug into their own playlist.  Personally I like to have a playlist.  Certain lyrics can invoke a whole new scene for me and helps me get lost in the WIP.  (Yes, Glambert was my inspiration for my alien and Jason Castro is my inspiration for my snowboarder.  Don't judge)

Taste: Home made Lemonade Recipe Home made Lemonade Recipe This is one that you think, how the heck am I supposed to do this when characters don't really eat in literature?  I'm actually going to use an example from Lauren Myracle's novel SHINE to show how you can describe something that makes you feel like you can really taste it:  She brought me a glass of bright yellow lemonade so fakely sweet it made my teeth hurt.  I could literally imagine the color and taste of that lemonade just from that one sentence and try do the same in my own writing.

Smell:  Smell can be something good to your character, like when describing thier love interest's cologne or the hair wax in a dreadlocked snowboarder.  Of course smell isn't always good.  When describing an evil troll in a fantasy you may describe his terrible teeth and the way when he breathed on you it smelled like rotting flesh reaking from his mouth.  Sometimes I will burn candles just to evoke a sense of smell or I'll just search for products around my house that I like and describe that smell (yes...I'm that weird).

Touch:  This is one of the most important senses to writer.  If you write romance, you want to know how the character's skin feels against eachother and if you write action scenes you want to know what it feels like when the characters are fighting.  How do you do this?  Sometimes you have to watch movies to get a visual of what it looks and sounds like when characters do something like fight or fly a ship, or you can just go back to your own experiences and imagine that first time you held hands with your significant other.

How do you evoke the five senses in your writing?  Do you have any tips or tricks/


  1. I love books that make you use all your senses in books. The ones that come to mind the most is Maggie Stiefvater's book Lament, Ballad, Shiver, and Linger. Great blog post!

  2. I'm totally that writer who believes in conveying all those five senses. Usually if I'm writing a scene and I can actually play out that scene myself then I will, such as if my character is sick and eats a bowl of soup I will go have some soup and try to jot down exactly what it feels like to have the hot liquid soothe a sore throat.

  3. Cari- I actually still haven't read any of Maggie's books *hides in shame* I should probably do that.

    Nicole- So you're a method writer? I like that.

  4. Magan! Get Maggie's books ASAP! Want to borrow mine? That's how much I want you to read it!

  5. Cari- Tempting offer. I have two books currently on my TBR pile to review, but afterwards I PROMISE to check them out.


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