Category: News

Beyond the Five Senses

Why do we incorporate the five senses in our writings?

Often it’s to help us show rather than tell. “There was a damp chill in the air” tells us (and the characters), indirectly, to grab a jacket. Instead of writing that “the orange juice was sweet”, how about, “it was like drinking a glass filled with sunshine.” Also, writing with the senses may help:

– make readers feel they are part of the experience in such a way as to breathe life into a setting, a person, an animal and so on.

– to keep our work from seeming two dimensional. Utilizing the senses fleshes things out to make them appear more real.

– to promote understanding in readers. Why does this house seem haunted? Why is the woman moving so slowly?

But writing using the senses can also help readers focus on the qualities of a person, place or thing. For instance, in my latest, MURDEROUS MEANS, a psychic is introduced. Readers are told that Heidi is around thirty, looks a certain way, and definitely behaves in a certain way. Is she legitimate or not? Where is she coming from? Why is she even in the story?

Using the senses of sight and hearing, readers have the opportunity to learn about Heidi’s qualities beyond just the physical: she has insecurities which make her appear arrogant; that make her engage in certain actions. She has her own agenda and won’t waver from it. Uncovering her qualities encourages readers to ask why Heidi behaves a certain way, which in turn leads to understanding.

I so appreciate gaining some understanding of myself when I’m reading about the behavior and mindsets of others, including of fictional characters. What can I learn from a situation is a question I often ask myself and have my heroine, Corrie, ask herself. This is how we grow as humans and how our hero/ines grow as the stars of our fiction. 


Giving Up? Not so Fast

I’ve given up on writing a few times, but I keep coming back. Because, when I don’t write, I feel empty, alone, a little lost. There’s nothing quite like creating a new fictional world with new characters, predicaments, emotions. Especially scenes that involve overcoming negative emotions, such as anger, frustration, impatience. Every time my heroine, Corrie, has to overcome an emotion or a challenge, it’s most gratifying to witness the way she takes her obstacles down. And when she can’t take them down, she races (or even tiptoes) around them.

Writing can be a means of taking control, vicariously, of our own lives. Another driver was rude today? Let Corrie handle it. You wish you’d said something during a tense situation? No problem. Corrie can say those words when she’s in a tough spot. See what I mean?

This is what makes writing fiction irresistible. In my last post, I mentioned truths we discover about ourselves when we write. We also let off steam through our stories, which helps promote calmness and relaxation.

There’s something very Zen about writing, kind of like taking a walk in the woods or listening to the soothing sound of water in a running stream. Plus, what else can you do that will take you straight to the people you’d like to hang around? Book readers, librarians, other introverts and word lovers. Does this sound dull to you? Try spending ten minutes talking to any of the aforementioned and see for yourself. My local librarian always has something fascinating to offer. There’s nothing quite as gratifying as talking to another reader about a book you both enjoyed. Or didn’t. And introverts? They’re often gentle folk with a greater sense of understanding. As for word lovers…I have a great admiration for those who use their words thoughtfully, and with precision. 

When I take a pause in my writing, it means I’m recharging to return, full-speed to weave a tale for myself and others to enjoy. See what you’d miss if you give up on writing?


When Fiction Becomes Real

Writing fiction permits me to examine the world around me in a different way; some writers have said in a more profound way because we are ever trying to understand behavior. And this understanding unfolds at a more “mindful, thoughtful” pace, and on a deeper level than we tend to do in real life. My heroine, Corrie Locke, has shown me a thing or two, about better understanding.

I never realized that fiction offers the opportunity to write more freely about personal challenges, including things that may require a resolution. When I wrote my fourth book, I discovered that Corrie’s resolutions or accomplishments sometimes mirror something I’ve experienced in real life. The more I delve into her responses and reactions, the more I learn more about myself. Who knew? Not me, that’s for sure. This is a gratifying bonus of fiction writing.

Writing fiction is sometimes like staring into a mirror that’s reflecting parts of my life right back to me. For instance, I didn’t know I felt a certain way about bossy people until Corrie showed me how she felt. When she takes action against this person, it’s liberating because, in a small way, I rid myself of pent-up emotions.

I’ve also learned more about relationships, thanks to Corrie. Take her relationship with her mom, Victoria. They start out in book one being at odds with each other, and that continues until book four when things soften a bit, but not enough. Victoria can be over protective, which makes Corrie shrug her off and take her for granted. I had to ask, do I do that? By book five, everything changes when Corrie enlists her mother to help with an investigation. Victoria plays a bigger role than anticipated, and suddenly they are bonding in an unlikely way. And guess who appears in book six, too? Investigating together brings them closer. Which made me seek out my mother to do things I ordinarily wouldn’t do with her for the same reason. Would I have thought to do those things without my fiction writing? Maybe. Maybe not.

The truths we reach sometimes, when writing fiction, are truths we didn’t even know we were seeking. In these ways, writing can be very transformative and insightful.