Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Hone Your Senses!

Every Wednesday, YA Highway asks their readership a simple question to answer on your blog. Once you answer, you link your blog in the comments for other readers to hop on board. This is Road Trip Wednesday.

Today's 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.

For someone who writes, I'm one of the least observant people I know. I have to make sure that I pay attention to things like the exact smell of grass or the nuanced flavor profile of Hubby's chili* or I get nothing. This totally explains why my initial drafts of anything lack detail**.

One way to help notice more of the details around you is to do an observation exercise.

Sit somewhere with paper and a pen. For five minutes, jot down everything you observe: smells, sounds, sights, textures, tastes. Don't worry about being clever with your description, the point of this exercise is to report.

Your truly likes to practice what she preaches*** so I did the exercise now. My five-minute observations include:
  • smacking of flip flops
  • ringing telephone
  • distant chatter of kids
  • tang of orange juice
  • rumble of garbage truck
  • dryness of air
  • the whir of a lawnmower 
  • smoothness of keyboard keys beneath my fingers
  • the murmur of the radio

In the final minute I realized I totally forgot to list the items directly in front of me. So I scrambled****:
  • computer monitor
  • ceramic tangerines designed to look like cats
  • stuffed chococat
  • black mesh pen holder
  • empty dark orange chili bowl with a white plastic spoon inside
  • battered laptop
  • red aluminum water bottle
  • ping pong frosty the snowman
  • crumbled napkins
  • orange juice carton
  • small giraffe eraser
  • small penguin eraser
  • small brown sign that reads 'danger zombies run' in white.
What did you find in your five minutes?




* Which I'm eating now. Too bad delicious wasn't actually a flavor.
** There's a reason why it's a shitty draft, you know.
*** Sometimes
**** Please note that these weren't the only things going on, but this exercise is a challenge when the day job is happening alongside it. Yours truly recommends you do this exercise during writing time, not day job time. (Unless writing is your day job. If it is, go nuts.)
_______
Last.fm hit of the day: Back in Flesh by Wall of Voodoo

5 comments:

  1. Ooh, I like this exercise. OK, here are mine:

    The scent of the breakfast sandwich my husband ate for lunch, running water, whirl of a fan, soft blanket, the citrus scent of grapefruit shampoo, my laptop, bookcases, water glass, celery, and a package I got in the mail from someone I don't know.

    Great idea, Alicia!

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  2. Cool exercise. I did an exercise focusing on sounds a couple weeks ago and it was so great to sit in the park and write about things I could hear on a gorgeous summer day.

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  3. Fantastic exercise - thanks for the tip!

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  4. Ooh, I love this exercise! I'll definitely try it the next time I'm feeling blocked or uninspired. Thanks for sharing. :)

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  5. Awesome exercise - I will have to try this, perhaps once when my children are awake...and once when they're sleeping.

    Great post! Love your spin on the prompt.

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