Good morning, it’s Thursday, and that means I’m going to post a throwback from my earlier posts. Essentially a re-post of an old archived post with new notes and observations.
Anything added(except grammar and spelling corrections) are marked in green within the original Post’s text.
The next post I’m going to revisit is Sensible Sensation . Originally posted on . The reason I’m revisiting is that I’ve had to go back and add the five senses to my writing again when I revise. I wanted to remind myself to put it in in the first place.
Immersing the reader in the story is something I still strive to achieve. When writing it’s important to use all five senses. Smell, sight, taste, hear and touch. Now it’s not imperative every scenario have all five, but it can help plump up a drab sentence.
For fun, I’m going to highlight my crutch words and filters words in the examples using orange.
Joe picked up the book from the desk. It was heavy and bound in black leather, it crackled when he opened it.
Yawn. I need to make this book more important, to focus on it and make Joe experience the book. To do this, I use a technique explained in The FAB pencil to describe the book better. This is not going to decrease word count by any means but is a great way to add words if that’s the goal. (While it is a yawn, the only reason I embellished is that the book is important. If the object has no value in the story, the above description is adequate.)
Now for fun, I’m going to add all five senses to this interaction and bring Joe and the book together like lovers on a moonlit night, instead of strangers on an awkward blind date. (This is a good exercise to do, one that I need to do more often.)
Joe picked up the heavy black book from the desk. The satisfying crackle of the leather floated to his ears as he opened the cover.
Joe picked up the heavy black book from the desk and ran his fingers over the hard, smooth surface. The satisfying crackle of the leather floated to his ears as he opened the cover.
Joe picked up the heavy leather-bound book from the desk. He ran his fingers over the hard, smooth surface. The satisfying sound of crackling leather filled the room as he opened the cover. He inhaled the musty scent of old paper and ink as it wafted to his nose.
Sight – this isn’t always necessary since he is clearly looking at the book. Depending on how important the book is, will depend on how much time I put into describing it and the interaction. This book is important, so it warrants a better description. At this point, I have decided that picking the book up doesn’t make sense. It’s unnecessary. (New note, sight is tricky, it often causes filter words to jump in and play. In these examples, I’ve already put Satisfying and crackling in and nowadays I’d take them out too. Peered can be a filter word. In most descriptions, if the other four senses are involved sight is implied. Look, looked, looking, see, saw, seen, peer, peered, peering, etc. are all filter words that can weaken a sentence. They also tend to be in sentences that TELL rather than SHOW the actions, emotions, etc.)
Joe peered down at the heavy black book on the desk. He ran his fingers over the hard, smooth surface and opened the cover. The satisfying sound of crackling leather filled the small room, as the musty scent of old paper and ink wafted to his nose.
Taste – I’m not likely to have him lick or eat the book, that would be weird. Maybe if this was a totally different scenario or he had a paper eating problem it would fit, however for this I’ll keep taste subtle.
Joe licked his salty lips as he peered down at the heavy black book on the desk. He ran his fingers over the hard, smooth surface and opened the cover. The satisfying sound of crackling leather filled the small room, as the musty scent of old paper and ink wafted to his nose.
If I were going to write this again now that I have more experience and know that there are more filter words and crutch words than I did at this point, it would look like this,
Joe’s tongue swept across his sweat salty lips. He traced the embossed letters in the smooth surface with his fingers before he opened the cover. As the nostalgic crackle of the black leather filled the small room, he wrinkled his nose at the musty scent of old paper and ink.
Removing the filter words and my crutch words(words I use too often) I was able to write a paragraph that I’m happy with.
Voila. Now Joe fully interacted with the book. Making him lick his lips also added emotion, depending on what came before this interaction it might be excitement, anticipation or nervousness maybe even fear.
My advice about senseless writing.
Take some time to make important objects blend into the story, make them become part of the experience and not a foreign object explained coldly. Basically, SHOW and don’t TELL. This is still good advice.
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