Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The Five Senses

by Molly Noble Bull

The speaker at a writers’ conference gave a testimony about the five senses once, and I will never forget what she said. Though I didn’t actually attend the writers’ conference where she made these amazing discoveries, I purchased the tapes, and I have played them again and again.
Here is what she said.
She explained that the first few novels she wrote didn’t sell. She would send them to editor after editor, and all were rejected. She wondered why and made a decision to find out. As a result of her research, she began to do things differently.
Somehow, she concluded that when she had at least four of the five senses on almost every page of a manuscript, the book sold. When she did not, the novel was rejected.
Here are examples of the kind five senses I am talking about.
Linda’s sky-blue eyes set off her dark hair. In fact, he’d never seen a woman with hair that black—unless it came from a bottle.
Hearing: He stood at the water’s edge, listening to the rush of the sea against the rocks and the whoosh of a salty breeze.
Touch: Seated on the blue velvet settee and waiting for Jim to join her there, she traced the carving of a bird on the oak arm with her fingertips.
Smell: As soon as she entered the door, she smiled, breathing in the scent of gingerbread and cinnamon and stewed apples.
Taste: The milk was so sour it almost made warm buttermilk sound good.
Sometimes it is almost impossible to get more than one or two of the five senses on a page of manuscript. Therefore, I suggest combining two or more in the same sentence.
Examples of Combinations:
Salty breeze
Warm buttermilk
White sheets of a frozen clothesline
The vapors from the oily solution his mom had rubbed on his chest made his nasal passages open and his eyes water and burn.
Fiction novels that contain the five senses on almost every page sell, and if you can put two or more in one sentence, you might sell even sooner.

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