Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Using All Eight Senses!!!

Eight Senses? Is that right?


At least for my writing workshop, it is. Because as you describe, there are the normal five senses of Sight, Sound, Scent, Touch and Taste.

But what about a sense of Space? Is it bigger than a bread box? Tiny? Cramped? Echoingly ginormous?

And then there is Time. When is this happening? There is the year or era, as well as seasons, and time of day. Gotta use at least some of these, or we won't know when we are!

Then, our workshop leaders introduced the sense of...the Unknown! (Dum, dum, dum!)
You know, when the hairs of your neck prickle, or your stomach does a nervous flip-flop, or you feel that giddy feeling inside when you are just on the cusp of falling in love. Sigh!

So, our assignment for this week had three parts. Section one was to create a sentence for each of these, using subtle indications. No, "I watched..." or "The sound of..." or "She smelled like..."

No, no, no. Subtle.

I'll share a couple with you. Can you guess which it is? I think you can figure it out.

1) She breathed slowly, massaging her hands until they lathered with suds and the tang of almond, washing away the bits of ground beef, onions, breadcrumbs, and minced garlic that had clung to her skin.

2) The crinkle of plastic drowned out the squabbling downstairs, as she tore open the bag of mini chocolate bars she had been saving for Halloween.

3) She waited to see if the subtleties of the freezer burn would melt with the vanilla and she could just enjoy the slower melting chocolate chunks, but the brackishness adhered to her tongue like fuzz.

Okay these next two are harder. They are the two more ephemeral ones. See if you can guess.

4) She eased the SUV past the gate posts and the crooked, sun-bleached headstones, wondering at the narrowing of the grassy patch between the tire tracks that had been too wide to jump across twenty years ago.

5)  They were Old Navy, and there was no baby brother waiting to grow into them to justify the expense, but she had bought them anyway, because next winter Daniel would be too old for footie PJs and cuddling with mommy before breakfast.

Okay, time's up. Answers will be given at the end of the posting. (Don't skip ahead!)

The second part of this week's assignment was to write a paragraph using all the eight senses. I think mine turned out pretty good! I kinda fudged and made it a very loooong paragraph. Normally I would break it up. But its kinda like Flash Fiction. Less than 500 words. Precisely 422, to be exact. Oh, and before I forget, the third part of our assignment was to read a piece by James Joyce and find all eight senses in his sentences. It was fine, but not nearly interesting enough to be posted on my blog, thank you very much! Only interesting writers get posted here! (Wink, wink!)

Okay, on to my paragraph. Its based on events that happen in my novel, but it actually takes place after the curtain has closed. A mini-epilogue for one of my secondary characters.

Bets rubbed her damp palms against her homespun skirts and took one tentative step past the arch and onto the stony bridge. She licked her lips, still salty from her tears. Scolding herself for being a chicken-hearted clod-pate, she stalked resolutely to the top of the mossy, hump-backed center. She turned on her heel like a soldier to face the torrent of white water that thundered from the top of the cliff towering before her, to the pool that lay five stories below. The sun was only halfway down the sky, yet the ravine, bridge and waterfall already sat in shadow. Misty spray floated on the air in beguiling eddies and swirls before alighting upon her face in a clammy glaze, that somehow reminded her of the fetid, dripping catacombs. Here, on the back side of the city, she could almost believe that Sirens, or the Devil himself, lurked about, ready to lure the unsuspecting to their doom. If she took one more step and looked down, she would see the same view Lys had that night. But she didn’t take a step. She couldn’t even move her mouth. All the words she had bottled up, ready to share with her sister, were now trapped behind her teeth in a bone-dry mouth. If only she could tell Lys that Da was dead, hanged for joining in the rebellion. Would she find it funny that, after all he had done to Ma and to them, he should be hanged for the only good thing he had done in years? Of course, the first rebellion had failed, and he’d been hauled to the dungeon, like the others, only to come out when the Regent needed a fresh dozen swinging from the gibbets. But now that the proper king had his bum on the throne, everything was settled and it was time for Lys to have some peace. Except now, the words wouldn’t come. Bets let her shoulders slump and closed her eyes, cursing her craven heart. A tiny breath of air tickled her ear, and her eyes flew open. The bridge was empty, save for her. Suddenly, a fierce wind howled down the ravine, paused, then swirled around her, its chilly fingers tugging at her skirt, her apron, and the tendrils of hair that had escaped her kerchief. A shiver rippled over her skin, and she wondered if the faint tinkle carried on the breeze had come from within the city walls, or from the tiny silver earrings that Lys had always worn.

Alright! How was that? Did you find them all? 

And by the way, the answers to the previous Sentences are: 1 = Scent, 2 = Sound, 3 = Taste, 4 = Space (always a problem with an SUV!) and 5) Time 

(This one made me cry, even though it is only half true. I bought a little peppermint striped union suit PJs from Old Navy last year for Daniel just before Christmas. He grew out of it in two months and will never wear again...Sigh! Oh, and it wasn't THAT expensive, though I used similar justifications. And it did NOT have footies. ) 

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