Monday, November 30, 2009

Reach Out and Touch Someone

Arf and Woof are covered in hair. Of course. They're dogs. And you've heard me rant about dog hair enough on here.

Both have black downy undercoats, as if someone covered them with tiny little black cotton balls. There's no difference between dogs on this undercoat.

The difference is in their top coats.

Arf's hair is short and stiff, like two-inch long bristles. Black on the bottom, silver at the ends. Spiky, although the hairs lay flat on his body.

Woof's is long and silky. Wavy. People often say he's the softest dog they've ever petted.

Everything we touch feels different. Remember haunted houses and feeling the olive eyeballs and spaghetti guts?

How things feel when our characters touch them is one way to use the sense of touch in our writing.

Another way is how touching makes the character feel.

A mosquito bite itches. When we scratch the itch, it's soothing. But scratch too hard, break the skin, and the bite stings and burns.

Think massage. I'd love one right now after Thanksgiving! Heavenly. The wonderful relaxation that comes over you when knotted muscles become unkinked. But sometimes those fingers and elbows hit that certain spot that brings a tiny jolt.

Our characters don't go through their stories without touching and being touched. Let your readers feel what they're touching. And let the character's experience being touched.

Your story will be richer and more vivid.

Trust me.

17 comments:

Mason Canyon said...

I totally agree about the massage. Very interesting post.

Helen Ginger said...

A great reminder. Touch is a sense that is often overlooked in writing.

Helen
Straight From Hel

Elspeth Antonelli said...

Great reminder, Carol. I'm going to go through my ms and see where I can add some in. You're absolutely right; the more senses the better.

Elspeth

Sheila Deeth said...

I like that reminder. And very timely for me. Thanks.

Marisa Birns said...

Love the slide of cotton/flannel sheets on a cold night after a warm bath. Satin ones make me feel I'm going to fall off the bed!

Very good post. Using senses in writing enhances the readers' imagination.

Carol Kilgore said...

Thanks, ladies. I love the feel of clean sheets after a bath, too.

Terry Odell said...

Most definitely - when I judge contests, the sense of touch is the one most writers leave out -- sense of smell is another.

Laura Eno said...

Great post! I try to use all body parts in character's language, but I often forget to describe touch. Thanks for the reminder!
So, where's the picture of Arf and Woof? :)

Jackie Houchin said...

Something to think about, Carol. Maybe the sense of touch is the most difficult to describe well in a story. We need comparisons that evoke what we mean, and hope the reader has a broad experience in touching things.:o)

Carol Kilgore said...

Laura - I'll see if I can get some decent photos . . . stay tuned.

Jackie - Also part of this would be hot/cold, hard/soft, gooshie/firm - things like that.

arlee bird said...

I have tried to strategically incorporate the sense of touch or feeling as much as it makes sense. Often a gesture or the placement of a hand,accompanied by dialogue or not, can say so much more than a description or telling what's going through a character's mind. The description of what a character feels, especially in terms of weather, helps us to feel like we are there with the character.
Lee
http://tossingitout.blogspot.com/

cassandrajade said...

A good reminder about using all of the senses to draw out readers in. Thanks for sharing this.

Galen Kindley--Author said...

Sigh, another thing I'm sure I've not given the proper attention. There are so many things to catch and think of.

Best Regards, Galen.

Carol Kilgore said...

Arlee - I agree. Mostly I write from the character's head if I can't show it any other way.

Cassandra & Galen - Remembering everything is hard for me, so I do a lot of drafts.

Angela said...

Carol, you always touch something in me! This is a wonderful blog! Now I am going to go stroke my dog!

Carol Kilgore said...

Yes, do, Angela. I've already had playtime with ours this morning.

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