Friday, April 23, 2010

I smell a rat...

Ezra 10: 35) For I have seen that I knew not, and hear that I do not know.
36) Or is my sense deceived, or my soul in a dream?
***

Ahh the senses. This weeks lesson is full of the senses. 1.Sight 2. sound 3. smell 4. touch 5. taste and the 6. unknown. That is our secret sense that no one knows about and the very reason I can smell a rat, liar, or a not so great person from miles away.

But this isn’t about my intuitive nature, this is about the use of senses in your writing. By using the senses, your writing will come alive. I know from experience that this is one lesson that made my writing, even poetry, take a leap from good to va va va voom.

Now when I write, I use the senses like a footstool. I prop other words on top, see to it that there is a sense of smell, taste, sight, or other sense in each and every sentence. If  I don’t see or hear a sense, upon revision I fix the sentence so it comes alive.

Yeah alive, literally jumps out and bites your face. Look at this sentence.

The truck went down the road. (A good telling sentence wouldn’t you say?)

The blue truck hummed down the road leaving dust in the air when it came to a complete and sudden stop. (Now the sentence has come alive. I showed you almost like a picture in your mind, what the truck did. It was a blue truck, (sight) It hummed (sound) It came to a sudden stop (maybe more sound and sight?) Dust flew in the air. (maybe sight, smell and taste as the dust flies, making you cough)

You don’t need to use every sense in a sentence but by adding the senses, the structure of your sentence and impact on the reader really hits its mark. We don’t want bland sentences linked together like sausage, we want them to be linked like a freight train, moving forward with force so that your reader is right there with you, alive in the moment.

Showing your reader a full picture, is what makes a story work. When they read, the reader wants to be in the scene. They want to feel what you the writer are trying to convey. If you miss the boat, then publishers are going to sail on to higher seas, if you know what I mean.

Now even though you’re going to place the senses in there, you need to watch the over-use of your adverbs and the word AND. Sometimes as we add life to the sentence, we over do it with too many words, leaving the reader scratching their head wishing they’d used dandruff shampoo that morning.

Don’t over-do the sentence, and try your darndest to not under-do (I don’t think under-do is a word.) But whatever you do, make sure you take the reader on the ride with you.

8 comments:

Ro said...

This lesson has really taught me what I like as a reader. I'm really finding that some of the stuff I'm reading is overdone and it's like ack! Sensory overload! Which makes me not want to read anymore. I've always noticed that about myself, but it's really coming out now while reading people's lessons.

So I really like that you pointed that out. I think clear consise sentences conveying one or two senses is soooooo much better than trying to make all my senses collide together in a tangle of arms and legs, each sense trying to claw it's way up to be seen.

Les is more...less is more....

joni said...

I am so glad you're liking the course, I knew you would. You have a writer in you and it was just screaming to be let out. I'm glad I get to watch! lol

Call it the voyeur in me. lol

And with this course, you'll read books and notice things differently now. :)

Way to go Ro!!!

suzmuse said...

Joni~
Your explanation makes me wonder why I didn't see it previously. I am so glad I found your site and the people who are kind enough to read what I write will be as well!
Smiles,
M. Sue

joni said...

Thanks Msue, you wouldn't be Mary Sue, like the Easter egg commercial? :) I'm just kidding with ya, and I'm glad you found my site too.

I like to help writers get all they can out of their writing. It is the least I can do.

If you need any help, just ask. :)

Thanks again!

Joni

Ro said...

Haha the voyeur in you. Does that mean you've read my stuff in the AP room?

I'm really glad I finally took the course too. You know, I think I was waiting until the book was ready to materialize ;)

joni said...

Well of course I've been reading. :) I try to get to everyone or at least the ones I know and like. Then there are the new ones that come and win me over and I just have to read them. lol (As a mentor I can't show partiality.) :)

And books don't just materialize, we have to work our butts off first, then and only then will they materialize. :)

At least your on the right track!

June said...

Great advice, Joni! Lots of writing tips in this post.

Hey, how's F2K going? I miss not being apart of that.

I wonder what people would say if I popped in for Wednesday night's chat? Hmmm....Hehehehe...

Take care,
June

joni said...

f2k is going smoothly! :)

Sure miss ya though. I think it was Julie, who popped out and we had to get us a new mentor and she is doing quite well for being thrown in there.

I try and make it to Sunday chats if you'd rather come in then. :)

You know you're ALWAYS welcome! :)