Thursday 30 September 2010

The forgotten sense can do so much more than you think ...

How often do you incorporate the way something feels to touch in your writing? I find myself naturally describing sounds, sights, smells, without a second thought ... but what about touch? And not only touch, but the way a particular texture makes you feel.
Take, for example, the sensation of a silk shirt on your skin when you perhaps hug a person wearing it. Does the texture bother you, like the furry skin of a peach? Or does it make you want to stroke it like the silky fur of a Siamese cat? Does it create a need to express warmth, compassion, love? Or does it make you cringe as if someone is scraping their finger nails down a blackboard, and want to flick their presence away as quickly as possible?
Next time you a describe something, have your character touch it, have them express not only how it feels, but what the texture does to them emotionally. Go on. Give it whirl. Anyone care to give me an instant example in my comments, I'd LOVE to read them!

Here's mine:
During the few short moments that I lie in bed before I open my eyes in the morning, I’m able to soak up the silence – its precious freedom – I’m the only one who subsists in this cocoon of linen soft on my body, from my toes to my chin—defending the intricacies of the flesh and spirit within—lying in a field of cotton, protected from the sun, the wind, the sea. There’s no time to think, just to feel – to feel the surrounding nothingness, tattoo peace into my skin. A few short moments of pleasant loneliness that spares me from sin.


  1. This is wonderful advice! I think you're right, it will add more dimension. I need to give this a try.
    Have a great weekend,

  2. You have me thinking...I probably don't use touch! I'll definitely keep that one in mind.

    Thanks! And nice job with the touch of those sheets. Makes me want to go back to bed.

  3. I am very tactile person. I touch everything! The Man makes fun of me because it's like I'm a little kid when we visit someplace new. I want to touch everything. I don't think I've put this into any of my writing yet. Thanks for the reminder!

  4. "This click is going to be the one!" she thought to herself. The grime born from the body oils, dirt, and despair of a decade of office workers made her mouse feel slightly sticky under her sweaty palm.
    "This is the click that shall push me over the edge." She rubbed her thumb against the smooth side of the cheap plastic mouse, wondering if she dare click, wondering she was ready to face the consequences... Whether the world was ready for the consequences...

  5. Nice. Come to think of it, I rarely use touch. I'll give it a whirl.

    He hugs me hard to his chest. A creature of habit, not the affectionate type, I resist at first. But then my hands run down his back, over his sweater, a cashmere layer of downy softness over those perfect muscles. He pulls me closer. With my head on his shoulder, I give in. His long blond hair tickles my cheek...


    Oh, SNAP! I just went all Harlequin on you. Damn cashmere. It gets me every time.

  6. This is something I don't really recall using that often and it is a good idea. Here is a quick contribuation:

    As soon as the tranquilized Sasquatch hit the ground, the shooter ran to its side and stroked its bristly coat. The thick matted fur felt stiff with dried accumulation of unwashed days in the wilds, feeling as hard and rugged as the life the creature lived.

    Had to think of something related to my debate topic today Do creatures such as Bigfoot really exist? Stop by and add your thoughts to the debate.

    Tossing It Out

  7. I actually don't do a lot of senses at the moment, although I quite like playing with them when I have time to write them down.

    At this stage I'm all about getting my story drafted. When I do the second draft, I'll add in all the descriptions...

    Nice post


  8. Perfect advice! I love your paragraph, excellent example. =D

  9. Excellent example! I like trying to describe touch/feel. It's fun coming up with different ways to describe it.

  10. Great reminder to engage all of our senses when writing.

  11. you've hit on one of my weaknesses. I do try to round out a description and often one of the senses will creep in (besides sight) but it's something I'm constantly having to remind myself to do. Great post!

  12. The dress was mostly green, with thin stripes of red that ran from the black, velvet collar to the hem of the dress. Kate touched it tentatively. The dress was shiny to look at, almost like a Christmas ornament, but the threads were stiff and scratchy under her fingers. Every pleat of the skirt stood up straight from the bed, and even when she pressed one down with her thumb, it bounced back up. She touched the collar of the dress and enjoyed its softness. Wearing a dress this uncomfortable would be worth it if such a sleek and dignified collar could be against her throat.

    Idk, I did more describing of the dress than how it felt. Oh, well!

    My most difficult is smells. I always have to work to remember to add those into the story.

  13. I'm not heavy on any of the senses, but I do remember touch. Sometimes I forget smells, though - or ambient noises.

  14. This is great advice! I'll definitely have to try it out - touch is a sense I often forget abuot in my writing, but it's so important.

    Also, I love your example! It really makes you feel what the character is feeling. :)

  15. I love textures and surfaces. Your example is how I feel at night! Ah...

  16. This is a great exercise.

    Sliding into clean sheets when my feet are dirty, is like finger nails on a blackboard, like biting into a peach, or dangling my feet over the edge of the Grand Canyon. It causes an exceedingly uncomfortable sensation, an itchy tingle, that starts in my toes, gathers speed as it cruises up my spine and explodes at the base of my skull.

  17. Excellent reminder and as usual, great example. Thanks for sharing.

    It's great to 'see' you again. :)

  18. I worry so much about SMELL and TASTE so much I almost always forget touch. Thanks for the reminder - so timely since I'm in revision hell :-)

  19. This is excellent advice... some I desperately needed... I forget about touch, how something feels and my emotional reaction to it (when I say my I mean my characters/my writing). I don't think about it enough. Sight, taste and smell seem to dominate my mind for senses... I need to bring them all back

  20. Oh, great reminder. Yes!!! Thanks, Jessica. :-)

  21. I could only think of a few times I mentioned how something feels in my WIP. Point well taken!

  22. While I was reading this my eyes rolled up into my memory at my most recent works and actually had me pondering whether or not I've used touch. Great advice! I will have to go through my work and find the touches.

  23. Good advice Jessica, thanks.


  24. Fantastic advice - thank you. Touch is definitely a sense I neglect in my writing.

  25. I love this post. In fact, you have inspired MY Friday post! Stop by to see your mention. And my response to you here is very similar to what you wrote...

    I first wake up, usually with a small body nestled against mine. The soft toddler pajamas rustle as the little head snaps toward me. Soft, baby skin brushes my shoulder. Then she is gone--on to play now that Mommy has opened her eyes. And I roll over for the first time that morning. That first change of position in the breaking dawn is sooooooo good. I land on my husband's pillow and it is somehow softer, definitely cooler, and the risen puffs of the matress cushion me gently, inviting me to stay longer than I should.

    Aaaah, I think I'll go to bed. :)


  26. This is another brilliant idea! Thanks for this! :) I like the way you described those sheets! Hmmm I think I'm going back to bed for another 10 minutes :)

    BTW, I have an award for you on my blog! :)

  27. Texture matters A LOT! Why do you think I am a nudist--clothes are itchy or binding! *cough*

    It's a great point that it is an underused sense in writing. I occasionally describe physical sensation like rain on the face or a prickle at the back of the neck, but am far more likely to describe the sensation of BEING touched than touching. I am definitely negligent and will keep this in mind.

  28. I need to work on all my senses, I think. But great example. I love the conflicting descriptions you give. Beautiful!

  29. This is something I usually add in revision rounds. But I love reading work with any of the senses. The writing just comes alive.

  30. hi miss jessica! i like how you talked about those sheets. this is kinda like that post i did on senses. for me im thinking on a raccoon on an example. i got so surprised when i held a raccoons paw. the bottom was just as soft as silk and i just kept rubbing my fingers on it and that wild raccoon just trusted me and let me keep rubbing the bottom of her paw and for me and her we got connected out for a while. you like animals so i know you could know what i mean.
    ...hugs from lenny

  31. Great post. Touch is something we take for granted. What a good reminder that it can add so much to a story.


“I'm using my art to comment on what I see. You don't have to agree with it.” ~John Mellencamp

“Allowing an unimportant mistake to pass without comment is a wonderful social grace” ~Judith S. Marin

“I don't ever try to make a serious social comment.” ~Paul McCartney

“I'd make a comment at a meeting and nobody would even acknowledge me. Then some man would say the same thing and they'd all nod.” ~Charlotte Bunch

“Probably what my comment meant was that I don't care about the circumstances if I can tell the truth.” ~Sally Kirkland

“We're not going to pay attention to the silliness and the petty comments. And quite frankly, women have joined me in this effort, and so it's not about appearances. It's about effectiveness.” ~Katherine Harris