Friday, June 05, 2009

What's That Smell

Is it garlic? Baby skin? Old socks? Perfume? Roses? A pig sty? What is that smell? It's realism . . .bringing life to the story, to the characters, that will envelope the reader.

The five senses. . smell, touch, taste, sight, and hearing. . . give punch to what is happening with and around the characters. They enhance the story and make it real.

Take touch for example. When a man touches a woman or child, is it different then when he handles a gun or a hoe? That sense lets you perceive what the man is feeling at that exact moment. . . tenderness, danger, soreness. It is through our imagination that the person comes alive in our minds.

Taste is a chemical sense. Is the character eating something sweet, sour, tasteless, or salty? How did the character react to the taste? How did the kiss taste? Or, that piece of candy?

The one sense we use quite a bit in our stories is sight or vision. Through the eyes of our people in the story, we see the beauty or ugliness around them. We see colors, structures, other people. Sometimes we even feel their blindness.

Hearing is the fifth sense, the sense of perception. Can the character detect vibrations, such as buffalo pounding the ground as the herd thunders across the plains. The sound of a brook bubbling over rocks, an avalanche, the roar of an engine, or the silence of a cold winter's day without wind.

As a writer, using all the senses brings the story alive to the reader, making the characters jump out at them and set forth images in the minds of our readers, page after page. We struggle with the characters, cry with them, and love them even when they are bad, all the way to the very end.

Writing is a challenge, a great enjoyment, and sometimes hours of frustration. Every writer experiences all three in their career. But for some reason a writer cannot stop putting words on paper. We bring to life a story to entertain and educate. We are storytellers for a lifetime.

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