RTW: Non-SENSE-ical

Road Trip Wednesday is a ‘Blog Carnival,’ where the ladies at YA Highway post a weekly writing- or reading-related question for participants to respond to on their own blogs. You can hop from destination to destination and get everybody’s unique take on the topic.

Today’s RTW: The Five Senses… How do you use them in your writing? How are you inspired by them? What books have used them well? Which ones are currently missing from your work? 

I think description is one of my strengths as a writer (hopefully my CPs and agent didn’t just read that statement and think, No, it’s not!) I love writing descriptions, getting in touch with all five of my senses, and hopefully piquing the senses of my reader. Whenever possible, I try to experience something before writing about it. I find it much easier to go into detail and get creative with my words if I’ve actually walked barefoot on that sun-drenched beach, tasted that decadent chocolate cake, or watched that fiery sunset.

The Five Senses* defined, as they relate to writing:

SIGHT – the ability of the eye(s) to focus and detect images of visible light… that generates electrical nerve impulses for varying colors, hues, and brightness.

From my manuscript Where Poppies Bloom: I dream of a cemetery, headstones ashen and crumbling, staring straight ahead; soldiers in a row. The sky is  liquid mercury, churning up thunder and rain. Flashes of lightning illuminate the graves, trees, bouquets of flowers left by mourning family members.

Books that do it well: Chime, Across the Universe, The Sky is Everywhere

HEARING – the sense of sound perception. Hearing is all about vibration.

From Where Poppies Bloom: I need the solitude of laps swum alone. It’s funny—the pool can be both alarmingly loud and serenely quiet all at once. The rush of water in my ears washes away everything else.

Books that do it well: Linger, Just Listen, Freefall

TASTE – the ability to detect the flavor of substances such as food, certain minerals, and poisons, etc.

From Where Poppies Bloom: I pick up my fork and take a small bite of crepe; the blueberries are summery sweet, slippery on my tongue.

Books that do it well: Anna and the French Kiss, Wither, Harry Potter

SMELL – hundreds of olfactory receptors each binding to a particular molecular feature. The odor molecules possess a variety of features and, thus, excite specific receptors more or less strongly.

From Where Poppies Bloom: He plops down in a rocker, still breathing heavy. He smells of cut grass and whatever deodorant he uses, and more faintly, sweat.

Books that do it well: Twilight, Dirty Little Secrets, The Replacement

TOUCH – a perception resulting from activation of neural receptors, generally in the skin. A variety of pressure receptors respond to variations in pressure.

From Where Poppies Bloom: His splayed fingers run the length of my scalp, from the base of my neck to my crown. He does it again and the pressure is amazing. I turn to beeswax, softening under his warm fingers, melting into the fine sand.

Books that do it well: Lovesick, Willow, Firelight, The Body Finder

*Actual definitions from Wikipedia

So, that’s my RTW take on the five senses as they relate to writing. How do you include descriptions that touch on all five senses in your stories?

And, this obviously has nothing to do with Road Trip Wednesday, writing, or the five senses, but I have to share… Four years ago today this happened:

I know I look about 14 in this picture, but I was actually 26, wearing no make-up and fresh from a sobfest.

I’ll resist the urge to weep about how fast time flies and how I sometimes wish I could rewind my life four years into the past so I can experience baby-hood all over again. Most days, though, I’m happy to stay in the now because I get to hang out with my smart, sweet, loving little cutie pie. She never fails to make me smile. Happy Fourth Birthday to my girl! 🙂


27 thoughts on “RTW: Non-SENSE-ical

  1. Alison Miller says:

    1) HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!! Your daughter is sooo precious. Somedays I wish I could hit the rewind button.
    2) I love the books you shared for examples. AND I especially loved the examples from your novel!

    Great post, Katy!

  2. Jessi Kirby says:

    So…your excerpts totally make me want to read WHERE POPPIES BLOOM. Like now! 🙂 I can tell I’m going to love your writing.
    And happy birthday to your little girl!

  3. Kristin Halbrook says:

    Great post! I love how you gave book examples and writing samples for each sense. Your little one is a doll! Happy birthday do her!

  4. Erin L. Schneider says:

    Love all of your excerpts – can’t wait to read Where Poppies Bloom when it hits the shelves!

    “The rush of water in my ears washes away everything else.” Love this.

    And happy birthday to your little one – I can only imagine how quickly time flies. But just imagine what wonders are to come!

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