Monday, April 24, 2006


Sensuality was the topic of the presentation at my chapter meeting this past Saturday. It was presented by one of our member authors who is known for writing particularly "hot" books. So, everyone expected her presentation on sensuality to apply to sex. But it didn't.

What we learned was that sensuality reaches beyond sex. It is found in every aspect of writing. Even genres other than romance. Sensuality is what pulls the reader into a story. It's what elicits the responses of the reader's senses.

She used Rudolph Steiner's Twelve Senses to describe how sensuality is used to pull in a reader and make a story more rich. Here's a link to a list of the senses.

I found the discussion really enlightening. I had always thought of the five senses. I hadn't taken the time to consider others such as "Life or well-being" which refers to the characters state of mind, happiness, sadness, etc... Or "Ego and the other" which is a person's sense of self and how they perceive others. This after all indicates if a character will immediately like or vilify someone.

Our presenter also pointed out recognizing the importance of certain senses. For instance, smell is something that illicits strong recollections in people. Smell can bring back an immediate memory. If you say, "the room smelled like old gym socks..." most people can immeditely identify with that and this pulls a reader in.

There are other senses that illicit strong responses. I point this one out because it is very strong for me. Sometimes when I'm in a store, I'll pass a woman wearing the same perfume of my first grade teacer, Ms. Dale. I LOVED her. She was an amazing teacher and person. And it sends me back to a very comfortable and happy place. So, I find the smell comforting. I also smell the same cologne my dad used to wear and I get nostalgic. Just smelling it, will take me back to a memory I thought long forgotten. Everytime we smell fresh cut grass, my hubby says, "reminds me of living in Arkansas..."

For some, taste does this, for others it's sounds or some other sense. This is why it's important to incorporate more than one into your writing. But don't flood it with ALL, because then you have a serious case of sensory overload!

So, what is it for you that grips you and can snap up a memory immediately? Smell? Taste? Hearing? Something else?



Stacy Dawn said...

I'd say smell for me too. English Leather cologne my grandfather used to wear. Musty old basements remind me of my grandparent's house.

Nicole Reising said...

I like this! Its a great reminder to incorporate more depth into our writing! Thanks.


Karen Erickson said...

Smell is a big one for me. Fresh cut grass makes me feel like a little kid, for instance.

That must have been a great discussion. Wish I had a RWA chapter close to me...

Emma Sinclair said...

I guess for me it's smell, too.

I think smell is the most...individualized of all of the senses. By that, I mean that the smell of X reminds me of one thing, but can remind you of something else. And I think that can say a lot about a character!

Sue aka MsCreativity said...

Hi! I've popped over from Karen's blog.

Definitely smell for me too.

Love your blog btw... looking forward to coming back. :-)

Michelle said...

I just finished reading The Things We Do for Love by Kristin Hannah. She described the heroine's mother as smelling of drugstore perfume and Aquanet. It completely drew me into the story because I could picture the woman in my mind--just because of two smells. Amazing.

Stephanie Bose said...

I am a smell person -- so much so that I have to remind myself in my writing to remember to use all 5 senses.

Wow, look how many people are "sniffers" :) They say that smell is the one sense most closely linked to memories, so that must be why we all react so strongly to it.


April said...

Wow, smell seems to be an overwhelming favorite.

My chapter is nearly 2 hours away, Karen. So it's a haul and I don't always make it. But the meetings I do go to have been pretty good. Thanks for stopping by!

Glad you stopped by MsCreativity! Can't wait to see you again!