Wednesday, July 09, 2008


More often than not we deal with sight over the other senses, generating monosensual texts that, while functional, remain flat to the reader.

Anyone remember what great sensual references Dan Brown made in The Da Vinci Code? Me neither. Anyhoo, listing them out like this is a great to see where I'm reliant upon certain sense, failing to use others, or not entirely developing reader sense through power words or onomatopoeia.


This is an abstract reference of loss rather than an actual bite or sting felt by the character, but, it's a start:
Even an insect bite or sting might have seemed natural, but they too were not to be found in Rome's parched carcass.
Another reference to loss:
He wished they were within reach, so that he might feel their texture.
Then I start relating more concretely (and this is a crossover to taste):
The air was heavy and dry in a way that no air conditioning or water could satisfy.
I begin to relate more specifically. Here are temperature references:
Lying in the pooling heat on her bedroom floor he'd plead with her to talk cool words and chilling breaths.
In the wintertime the frost settled upon the bedsheets and he'd huddle up to Mama.
When soil was soil:
... when her hands weren't thick and dripping with soil.
Rugs and grass:
... softer and more comforting than any rug.
... as she kicked off her shoes to feel the cool of the unsunned flagstones.
Mama's soles were burnt and stinging as she fled home.
Dying flora:
She presented her parents with the crinkled leaves she'd saved as they fell.
Foodstuffs (I didn't bother to consider flavours here - silly me, missed a trick) These are insinuated rather than stated by my word choice. Imagine these textures in your mouth (hardly crunchy):
... fed her from the synthetic mush of proteins... chase withered vegetables...
We all know how heat and cold can give us headaches:
...fusion of chill-filtered air and muggy heat gave the workers migraines.
Alfredo rubs his eyes and digs his fingernails into his palms.
Antiseptic wind(!):
... pushed down by the cool wind and the numbing taste of antiseptic. As he stroked their leaves and felt the sturdiness of their trunks his eyes began to stream.
Cool and wet:
... and wipes her eyes with a cool flannel...
He feels the relaxing string of her muscles...

A simple reference to silence:
He'd wander the city's hushed streets that once had been laden with tourists.
A tell:
... weaned on the scents and textures of geoponics.
Insects and church bells:
The buzz of insects would wake her before the morning haze lifted... or the first bells of morning rang out from the seven hills.
... and the dogs would never stop panting...
... and the swallows were already at play, chirruping over breakfast on the wing.
No amount of wailing could reverse the change.
More bells (this is Rome, I'm trying to evoke):
The church bells continued to ring morning...
Inside the glass-snakes (giant, hermetically sealed greenhouses):
The venting systems always thrummed...
Crying is sight (really), but I believe that if used properly the reader can imagine the sound:
... stood outside her room and listened to her gentle tears.
And breath is always a good one:
Her breathing has become a drawn out rasp...
Not a greenhouse, but a private floral collection this time (a crossover into touch also):
... beneath a gently humming ventilator that expelled great breaths of midwinter chill.
More breath:
She gasps, a long inward breath...

And the first reference to smell is abstracted:
If only their distance was no further than the intake of one breath.
The next is more concrete:
He only ever smelt dirt and dust, the stench of foodstuffs rankled by the Sun.
Come day or night, what wind there was carried only a stench of rot.
Finally, I give the reader some smells to work with (though these are restrictive to those who know the scents). So, they're a little leading:
Rome's breath would scent her room with sweet matthiola and the fragrance of freesias.
More lacking smells, I first relate camphor laurel to the reader, and then (this does require the reader to know what the smell is in the first place for this kind of scent reference to work:
She didn't detect the muted note in its scent.
This is a story about the lack of scent, so it is only in the denouement that I finally relent:
... giddy from his task and the heady excitement of so many fragrances... in great breaths those sweet and spicy smells...

My word! There's no taste! That's a shame... I think I need to focus a little better.

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