– Weaving in the Seven Senses –
As you can tell from the title I am still editing. I have gone over my current manuscript for all the big things. Now it is time for me to add those little details that raise ordinary writing to the level that touches the reader emotionally. This is especially important in romance.
Identifying the Senses
One way to do this is to make sure that all the senses are included in every scene. So let’s start with listing the senses. I’m sure you all learned the five senses in kindergarten: Touch, Taste, Smell, Hearing, and Sight. However, there are two other senses.
The Vestibular Sense, located in the inner ear and in sensors located in the soles of our feet, tells us where our body is in space and provides feedback on balance, coordination and movement.
The Kinesthetic Sense or Proprioceptive System provides input on the way our bones, tendons, and muscles are functioning and provides feedback on the functioning of our body in terms of pressure, contraction, stretching, and so on. (Note: They probably don’t teach these last two in kindergarten because they are really hard to spell.)
Using the Senses in Writing Fiction
Incorporating these seven senses in every scene may seem like a challenge. But actually once a writer is aware of the need to do so, it becomes a simple matter of reading through the scene and:
Circle or underline or highlight every sensory element in the scene. I like to use different color markers for each of the senses if I am working on a printout. If I am working on the computer, I use the highlighter tool.
Search and Insert
If I have already incorporated all the relevant sensory elements, I quickly move on to the next. If I haven’t, I need to find the perfect spot to insert that sensory description. To determine the best location, I have made myself seven index cards on which I have noted places those senses work best or carry the most weight.
When I am writing the sensory description, I try as much as possible to actually experience that sensation. I taste the food item. I search out an aroma. I even balance on one foot or walk on different surfaces. It is actually one of the parts of writing I really enjoy.
In my next series of journal entries, I will explore each of these senses in my own writing and the writing of my favorite authors.