The other senses

I’m a very visual person. As a result my writing is pretty skewed toward visual descriptions of people and places. In fact I’d go so far as to say that unless something must be smelled, touched, heard or tasted by a character, I never inject those senses into the story.

I have just finished reading Perfume by Patrick Suskind. This book is an absolute feast of odours and aromas. The protagonist has a heightened sense of smell and describes everything by smell. I found myself becoming aware of the scents of my surrounds in a way I never have been before. I started to see my day to day activities in a whole new light, and it was fascinating.

Then in a rather serendipitous move onto the next Top 100 book on the list, I started reading Across the Nightingale Floor by Lian Hearn. In this book the main character has a heightened sense of hearing. Again, the focus on the description was all the little sounds we naturally dismiss (if we hear them at all).

Both these books have been really enjoyable and I’m sure a large part of that is the immersion in my other senses. I have been picked up a few times by my writers group about not having enough non-visual descriptions in my stories and now I understand exactly what they mean.

I guess awareness is the first step, now I just need to find the right words to get these senses across. I’m sure my writing will only benefit from making the story a more complete experience for the reader.

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