Saturday, May 24, 2014

Sunday Musings: May 25 2014

Hope you're all having a good week, so far.

Thought we would go and visit senses again this week...touch. 

And right now my nose and eyes are touched with allergies. So, going to jump right in while I can see through watery eyes and sneezing.

In the first paragraph of my YA novel, If I Could Be Like Jennifer Taylor, the heroine touches the cheek of her crush and smooths his dark hair. In the third chapter her friend grabs her arm to bring her back to her senses. In another scene they slap hands to celebrate something and in the same chapter the heroine collides with her crush and the two of them land together on top of book bags.

The sense of touch is very important in bringing readers into a story and making your characters seem real. You can feel the cheek as she caresses it and the joy as she slaps her friend’s hand after a victory. The reader can identify with all of these feelings and it brings them deeper into the story.  This was all unintentional. I didn’t actually think to put in the sense of touch it just came naturally with the scene and the characters. When you are writing and you know your character very well it is very normal to have situations that have the sense of touch. Think of real life and how many times you use it yourself. It is part of everything and so needs to be in the story. There are many other instances of touch in my novel, but then you wouldn’t need to read if you haven’t already.

Touch does play a part in my books:  The touch of a breeze, the comfort of a long session under steam jets are one indication.  One character reaching out to brush or take the hand of another in sympathy or understanding is another.  That one touch says what volumes of text could not.

The sense of touch. It keeps characters human. It makes the story realistic. 

Just as important, it forces the author to show and not tell the story. As a reader, I want to feel the story unfold.


I'd like to wegh in with this one. I think touch is often overlooked. I know I'm guilty of it, but I am including it more. Touch is definitely important to fill out a charcater, to put the reader in the scene. To make it come alive. To bring texture to the story, slippery or cool on the skin. Sticky, rough, the slimy fell of a wall if your character is in a dimly lit cave  with moisture filling its air.

I've read that most senses are overlooked by novice authors. and I the experienced could get lax. don't forget the gritty sand on her bare feet.

Touch is very important in the universe of my aliens. They are mind speakers, and among them, touch conveys a great deal of information. They do not shake hands, since among the touch is an intimate gesture.

Here's a paragraph from "Broken Bonds," chapter 1, that illustrates:

    Brad clasped Ardaval's outstretched hand, and the other man's suppressed arousal flowed over him. Aleyni considered the touch of hands an intimate gesture because the contact conveyed the other person's thoughts and emotions. Brad may not have the mind speech abilities of the average Aleyni, but by God, he was empath enough to get plenty from Ardaval's touch.

In our middle reader novel, THINGS ARE NOT WHAT THEY SEEM, touch was very important to the plot.  If a person is holding something of brass at the same time they try to perform a spell that will take them backward in time, the brass has the effect of holding the physical body in the present resulting in a horrible death.  Jennifer uses her knowledge of this effect to kill off the evil Malman before he and his henchman can kill her and her brother and their two friends..

 “Accept my parting gift, Mr. Malman.”  

With those words, she tossed him the chain.  By instinct, he caught it in his two hands.  A look of horror crossed his face and he tried to throw it away, but the brass clung to him and as he continued to resist, the chain dug deeper into his flesh as if he was being branded.  It was working!  

“Yes, Malman, you evil creature!  The brass chain is holding you in the present, just as a brass chain and crucifix around Semprus’ neck did to him so long ago.  Now you will die as you deserve, Malman!”  

Within seconds, his skin began to draw back tight on his forehead like stretched leather, his cheekbones protruded, and his eyes sank into his head.  A howling scream of pain and dread emerged from his shriveling form behind the coiling air.  Then the whirlwind stopped and a pile of dust remained where Malman had stood.  The brass chain was spread out on the floor in a circle.

When I begin writing a new scene, the first thing I do is close my eyes and envision myself in the setting. One by one all the senses come into play. We don’t always pay a great deal of attention when we’re experiencing during a moment, but the memory is always there in our subconscious.

Erin, my main character in Not Long Ago and the sequel, From Now On, goes from a modern world to medieval society. Talk about a sensory overload!! She sleeps on scratchy hay she’s certain is filled with crawly bugs, she wears a tunic of coarse linen that feels like burlap. The sand she uses to polish Sir Griffin’s armor is gritty, the water she bathes in feels like silk, the night air is cool against her skin, the humidity in the air feels like a heavy, wool blanket against her skin.

The more I can use the senses to describe the scene, the more my readers can relate—a goal we, as writers, are all striving to reach.

Dear reader, thank you again for joining us and we’d love to hear from you. Keep smiling and have a fun week. Never stop believing. See you next Sunday…nothing better than being cozy in bed with some Musings.

If you have a question or comment you’d like us to muse upon, do not hesitate to contact me Christine Steeves-Speakman  at


Susan Royal said...

Chris, I've enjoyed doing this so much. Each week I look forward to the new subject. Not only do I enjoy participating, but seeing my fellow writers comments never fails to get my Muse to working.

margaret mendel said...

I believe the sense of touch is an important element in the human experience (Not to mention how animals positively respond to being petted, ears tweaked, and all those other good touching moments.) and to have them in literature only makes a story more real, more present. Glad to hear other MuseItUp authors agree.