Story Writing Improvement – Element “Sense of Touch”
Whether you’re a fiction writer or professional editor, this series is for you!
Touch can do a lot for you and in helping the reader experience the story world.
It can make them feel empathy for a character instill fear in the reader, it can make the character and hence the reader model for something so touch is a really powerful sense because we all fear certain physical touch and we all love certain physical touch. Right? So it’s got that full spectrum of extreme emotion associated with it.
We know how touch is very important in describing in our books.
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Transcript with Kristina Stanley
JoEllen: Welcome to Publishing Power, my name is JoEllen and I am here today with Kristina Stanley of Fictionary and we’re back to talk about the 38 story elements. Hi Kristina!
Kristina: Hi JoEllen! We are out of an exciting port. We’re in the last of the senses in the story elements today.
JoEllen: Ah, thank goodness! Five senses, we’ve been through… What have we been through? We’ve been through sight, smell, sound, taste, today, we’re going to cover touch.
Tell us about how we can touch our readers.
Kristina: You’re funny today! That’s awesome. Exactly what you said, we’re going to try and make readers feel, physically feel, what the characters.. so that as the character is experiencing something, so is the reader, because that’s why we’ve created let’s fix it.
JoEllen: Exactly, so we’re trying to get that empathy, sympathy, all that stuff going on there. Great! So how do we make a touch better in our writing because it’s unique and we’re not touching?
How do we make a touch better in our writing because it’s unique and we’re not touching..
Kristina: Okay, that’s right! So let me just first say we’re coming this last but that doesn’t mean it’s any less important than the other senses right? We want to use all of the story elements and all of the senses throughout and like the other senses, touch can do a lot for you and in helping the reader experience the story world, right?
So it can make them feel empathy for a character instill fear in the reader, it can make the character and hence the reader model for something so touch is a really powerful sense because we all fear certain physical touch and we all love certain physical touch. Right? So it’s got that full spectrum of extreme emotion associated with it.
JoEllen: Yeah of course, and if we can think of specific genres we have little romance and we have all kinds of detective scary stuff, we have alien kind of fiction and stuff so our sci-fi should say but any. How so we’re going to implement this, how do we make it better? Would we gotta do it? What do we.. What are we looking for? How do we write right? So what do we write?
Kristina: That’s the big question so, with touch, you want it again to be related to the plot. So if I burn my tongue on coffee, it doesn’t really matter but if I do that and because of that I spit it out and bend over really quickly right at the moment a sniper was going to shoot me and the bullet misses my head. OK, that’s fine right? It’s a little more exciting, maybe a bit coincidental but it’s better than just in some random scene I broke my tongue on coffee. Right? So you want to make sure that
as with all the senses it is related to the plot you want to describe it in a way that there’s no filtering,
so you don’t want to be saying she felt the hot stove element. Right? One describes it in some way. You also want to make sure that you’re varying your different things a reader feels sorry, the character feels. And one example that comes to mind is you know you’re nauseous over something ’cause you have a lot of anxiety. Can’t use it too much the characters feeling it, but if it’s repetitive it loses its impact. So you know her stomach feels bad every time she’s anxious about something it gets repetitive and then dull. If you use it and ramble up that she starts throwing up and then it causes an ulcer and there’s some escalating feeling there with the touch, that’s great, you mentioned the romantic genre. You know basically in a typical romance when the lovers finally get together the stories over, so you can’t, you can have the break up being seen at the beginning and right you can have them get together maybe they slept together and then they break up for whatever reason and there are all these conflicts but in the end in the final get together all of that touch is done in the climax scene and then the resolution you don’t want to repeat that. Right? Stories over and I see that a little bit with romances sometimes that they’ll be a like a resolution lover scene where there are lots of touches well we already saw that in the climax and now you’re thinking just you know close off the loose ends and move on I’m gonna skim this part ’cause I just saw it.
JoEllen: Maybe it’s erotica so maybe you want to go through it again.
Kristina: But that’s different showing you. Absolutely and there’s a space for.. that’s exactly the point. Right? Does that know your genre and how to apply this sense in that genre?
JoEllen: Exactly. Exactly. So the pitfalls, tell us what to avoid? I mean you are telling us but a little bit yeah but..
What to avoid?
Kristina: You know you want to help the reader experience it..
so telling me something hurt, super vague, well, how much did it hurt? Where did it hurt? Why did it hurt? You got to ask these questions..
So if I elude a little bit earlier, so let’s say you know I put my hand on an element or Susan she’s my favorite character I was just so switching touches an element Susan ripped him off the element, her skin bubbled and she fell to her knees, right, so there I’m not saying it hurts not using the word hurt I’m using OK her skin bubbled. That hurt. You know it you feel it you think yeah we’ve all had a little burn some people had big birds which is an extremely painful thing and even a little burn hurts and the reader will know what especially for skin bubbled that’s a pretty awful feeling so it’s really the biggest pitfall I see is telling the reader it hurt as opposed to using a specific example.
JoEllen: Exactly and I think the description of the results is a lot more like you said, rather than trying to explain what happened or even trying to explain how they felt about it what do you see and how does that make you feel you know if you see skin bubbling you know I I know that a writer is effective when I feel what do I say almost like I’m sick in my knees, I don’t know how to explain it, I got him you know and that’s when it can evoke that emotion then you know you’re using it successfully. So what can we do today we’re going to go through all of our scenes and we’re looking for ticking off that we’ve used it but specifically for touch because that seems to be easier or the most I don’t know it just seems a little bit easier to me to talk about what you’re touching and doing but instead of talking about the action.
Kristina: Yep, so you want to make sure when you’re going through you know, again, you want to make sure that when you review your touch, you’re not being repetitive and you know you’re going to end up with this whole list of all of the five senses together. So if you’re writing a romance novel you want a lot of touch and taste in there right if you’re writing a murder mystery, sight is very important because there’s a lot of clues right and so you really want to think about the story you’re writing and which of the senses are important to that type of story and then you want to make sure you have a balance that you’re using all of their senses because we all use them every single day and the reader will want to experience all of them to gather an all of them related to the plot.
JoEllen: Exactly and remember some people are more sensitive to a specific sense than others so if you omit one you have omitted a person who is more audio or more visual or more sensual so essentials, tactile I guess is a better word but it’s very important, it’s super important because not all of us think or feel in the same way and you want to catch everyone not just genre people at general but make it a personal connection so that’s very good.
Excellent! Lots of homework, as usual, we’re making them work it out but again thanks for coming in, walking us through the scenes, and how we can use our five senses in the scenes if you liked what you’re hearing please share it with your friends and let’s get some more great writers out there in the world so that we can all be successfully publishers. Thank you for joining us today Kristina!
Kristina: Thanks JoEllen, see you next week!