Writing About the “Senses”

This article comes from The Editor’s Blog: It’s All About the Words, and it is excellent!!!! To read the complete article and to pick up some excellent pointers, please visit http://theeditorsblog.net/2012/09/09/the-eyes-dont-always-have-it/

Maybe I should say, the eyes shouldn’t always have it.

No, the title isn’t a reference to parliamentary procedures, simply a play on words.

While we learned all about the five senses when we were kids, and while we sometimes read of characters with extra senses, I’ve found that writers often limit their characters to a single sense.

Characters interact with their story world by seeing people and events and objects. They don’t necessarily notice every detail, but they do notice, through the visual, quite often.

That is, they see a lot more than they touch, taste, smell, or hear.

They look over at, look up at, look down toward. They see the expression on another character’s face and correctly conclude that character’s emotional state, often from a single glance (but that’s fodder for another article).

And while they’re always looking, the style or method of looking usually isn’t conveyed to the reader.

Writers tend to use the same words in every scene of every story to show how a character sees, and many times those words are simply too basic or bland. They add no punch to the scene. They fail to take advantage of a character’s emotions, educational background, or experiences. They may be a poor fit for the genre.

The two terms I find used most often for conveying a character’s perception of events or other characters, through sight, are look at and glance at. And those words are repeated many times in most manuscripts.

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