Friday, February 17, 2012

Sex and the Writer- Part Three of Five





Five's the big number.

Sight, smell, hearing, feel and taste.

I see her picture.  I can smell her and it is the insistent awareness of a tigress concealed by the fragrance of cherry blossoms.  Her whispers make my blood roar.  I can feel the royal velvet luxury of her skin.  I can taste the salty moistness in the hollow of her throat.

All that from the picture.

Does your writing have that power?

Does your writing engage your readers' senses?


I've talked to them and their answer is no.  You try.  They know you're trying.  They appreciate it, really they do.  

But you're so focused on he said she said that you forget they (your readers) have five sense, not one.

And you're so focused on he did she did that you forget that they (again, your readers) appreciate the visual plot sequence you've constructed, but, again, they have five senses, not one.

As a writer, you tend to think of only one thing at a time.  Dialogue (hearing).  Who did what (visual).  More dialogue (hearing) and more visual (sight)?

Why?  What happened to the other senses?  Why did you forget to include them in your last story?

Because you ignore sex while you're writing.

Sex jams every sense you have into high gear.  We know them all and they are euphorically overwhelming.  We feel, we see, we hear, we taste and we drink in the smell of our lover.

Sex engages all your senses.


Why doesn't your writing?

20 comments:

BernardL said...

I admit I'm a bit stark when writing. There's a really fine line between enticing description and mind numbing flowery boredom. :)

Rick said...

You bet there is, Bernard. But you are one writer who stays on the right side of that line.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Engaging all of the senses is something I've really had to work on.

Rick said...

Join the club, Alex!

Shannon Lawrence said...

It's easy to forget to think about all the senses; I know I do! Great post. I'm going to go read the first two, thanks!

Shannon at The Warrior Muse, co-host of the 2012 #atozchallenge! Twitter: @AprilA2Z

Patsy said...

It's true that I concentrate on one thing at a time with my writing - but because I'm aware of that I go through several times trying to focus on things I'm likely to have overlooked in earlier drafts.

Jai Joshi said...

haha, this is a good post.

I love using all five senses when describing. It's fun to close my eyes and think about the scent or the taste or the feel of something. Or the rhythm in the dialogue. Or the sights that we normally don't focus on. Delicious.

Jai

Rick said...

I'm glad to see you, Shannon. And I do love the title "Shannon at the Warrior Muse."

Rick said...

Patsy, how about when you're writing? You focus on the one thing at a time but are your senses on overload from experiencing what's going on in your novel? The reason I ask is because I believe that the writer is part of the story too and if they can't experience it emotionally while they're writing then the reader will have a harder time connecting.

Rick said...

Jai you have the makings of a great writer. What you just wrote describes the way Walt Whitman felt when he wrote the first edition of "Leaves of Grass."

Charles Gramlich said...

I think that's one of the reasons I really love narrative. It can be rich and lush while dialogue almost never carries it. Too much is too much, of course, but too much dialogue is far worse in my opinion. Give me some rich description. Let me luxuriate.

Rick said...

I couldn't have said that better myself, Charles.

cussedness said...

When I made my first pro sale, I got an offhand comment later on from the editor saying that I wrote "purple prose." I panicked and swerved hard in the opposite direction. Then I had to teach myself to write description all over again. I frequently write the dialog first and then go back and add more in. I try to get one solid description of a place (room whatever) in the first time it appears and then not bother with it in later scenes taking place in the same spot unless something major has altered (because a character busted up the furniture for instance).

Rick said...

Coming from a pro like you, cussedness, that's great advice for the rest of us.

Bonnee said...

Sex is definitely the best tool for writing, it should never be ignored. If you put it into it, the readers become hypnotized. Totally agree with what you're saying here :D

oceangirl said...

To the first question, the answer is yes! :)

Rick said...

Nice of you to come by, Bonnee. And the lessons of sexuality for the writer about how to make our writing "alive" are better than any workshop.

Rick said...

Ocean Girl, I knew you were going to say that.

Travis Cody said...

I get this one. Sex is visceral. Our writing should be visceral. To achieve that, we have to engage every sense.

Finding balance is the hard part. There's a difference between engaging the senses of the reader and simply adding more description where none is really required.

Rick said...

Right on, Travis!