Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Road Trip Wednesday-Not Enough Senses?

This Week's YA Highway Road Trip Topic:
The Five Senses. How you use them in your writing, how you are inspired by them, pictorial essays, that character with smelly socks, books that have used them well, the ones that are currently missing from your work, etc.

When writing settings and senses, I'm inspired by the character. I try to live in the moment and notice what she notices. Sight most often comes first (though I've written some "in the dark" scenes where other senses take over) and there's almost always a smell or taste or texture or sound added in. More intense scenes = more senses. Otherwise, I'm a bit of a minimalist. I want to find those tiny bits of detail that capture the whole perfectly.

That being said, I haven't written a book yet where the setting is important or distinct enough to be considered one of the characters...or where the main character is thrust into a whole new world (hmm...*thinks about WIP*). In those cases, I'd need to consider the five senses in a more conscious way.

Books that use senses well? The first YA that comes to mind is Beautiful Creatures (Caster Chronicles, #1) Not my favorite supernatural story, but the setting and flashbacks are amazing...and the main character puts you right there through his senses.

My weakest sense(s)? Sound, taste, smell and touch...I think I add a little of everything but probably not enough of everything...need to work on that. 

What about you? Do you have a favorite sense in your writing?

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  1. The first book I wrote barely used setting, so I don't think I utilized sensory descriptions as much as I could've. In my second, the setting was almost a character itself. I had so much fun describing it! Although I still neglected touch, for the most part.

  2. I definitely overuse sight, but I've become more conscious of the other four. And I never neglect my sixth sense. :)

    I've always loved to act, and I probably went too much sometimes into becoming my character, definitely using all five senses to become my role. I try to do the same with my characters in my stories. Still weak in certain areas (uh, taste), but working on it.

  3. Tiny bits of detail = definitely! I sometimes substitute one sense for another, rather than try to cram them all in one scene. It helps broaden my work, while still keeping the prose somewhat spare.

  4. I wasn't in love with Beautiful Creatures, but I agree that the descriptions were very vivid and sensual. It was easy to imagine myself within every scene.

  5. My settings are definitely characters in their own right: Spain, Jamaica, Antigua, and the spiritworld. I've tried to use sensory details to put the reader firmly in place for every single locale.

  6. This post made me think of Anna and the French Kiss, which I think used all five senses so well. I was transported to Paris during that book.

    I also don't use all of the senses at once. I think using all of them throughout the book is important, but I don't think they necessarily need to all be used in every description. Plus, there are times when the character just wouldn't notice a sense. For instance, if a character is running for her life, she may not pay attention to taste, even if she tastes her own blood. The need for self-preservation would be higher, and so she's only focus on what's necessary: sight to guide her way (and no more than that) and hearing to listen for an attacker.

  7. I haven't read BC, but good to know it uses them so well! I'll have to check it out.