Sense of Touch—Touchy-Feely Characters in Touching Scenes

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I finished reading Tailor Your Fiction Manuscript in 30 Days. I have AND will highly recommend it to anyone who dabbles in fiction. It’s one of the best “how to” books I’ve ever read.

—Marsha Hubler, Director Montrose Christian Writers Conference

See more about Tailor Your Fiction Manuscript in 30 Days at the end of the post.

Writers know how important it is that their characters use their five senses in stories. Earlier, I wrote about scentstastes, and sounds. Today, we’ll look at the sense of touch.

Importance of the Sense of Touch in Scenes

A character’s sense of touch brings him into physical contact with his surroundings. He doesn’t only see or hear something from a distance. He’s physically connected to an object or living being. Possibly, leaving his fingerprints on surfaces. In a way, what the character touches becomes more real to him than the sights and sounds he sees and hears.

Four Ways the Sense of Touch Works

image by KatherineSlade

1. Texture: The character senses how the surface of something that he touches feels. Or he senses the feel of something that touches his skin.

Examples: soft, furry, grainy, abrasive, sharp, prickly, bumpy

Image by Hans

2. Flexibility: The character senses how something reacts to his touch. Touching can mean a tap, a pat, a grab, or a blow. The character can feel how something he touches moves at the intenseness of his touch. The sense of punching a person’s belly is different than punching a wall. 

Examples: squishy, doughy, supple, loose, elastic, solid, firm, hard

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3. Temperature: The character senses how hot, warm, tepid, cool, cold, or freezing something feels.

Examples: boiling, blistering, balmy, lukewarm, chilly, frigid, icy

image by StockSnap

4. Humidity, moistness, dryness: The character’s touch or his skin feels the level of wetness or dryness.

Examples: clammy, damp, soggy, sweaty, viscous, dry, dusty, parched, withered

In all these cases, the character may react pleasantly or unpleasantly to what he touches or what touches him.  

Not Only Fingers Touch

image by KeithJJ

Character’s touch and receive touches. He can touch with his arm as he passes by someone in a crowded place. He can touch with his hip when he does a hip-bump with his dance partner. He can feel his girlfriend’s lips brush his cheek.

The Action of Touching

What is important about the sense of touch is not only how something feels to the skin that touches or the skin that is being touched. The action of touching is also revealing in a scene. The action of touching is more likely to evoke feelings, such as mourning, joy, love, and anger.

Examples:

  • she playfully slapped his arm
  • she slapped his face and marched from the room
  • when she finally understood, she slapped the table

Touching or being touched, connects your character to his surroundings. Make sure your character feels the texture, flexibility, temperature, humidity, and/or wetness or dryness of objects and living beings in his surroundings.

Do you use the sense of touch in your stories as often as you do the other senses? Why? Or why not?


Buy Link

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Zoe McCarthy’s book, Tailor Your Fiction Manuscript in 30 Days, is a fresh and innovative refocusing of your novel or novella. Through a few simple—and fun—steps, Zoe helps writers take their not-ready-for-publication and/or rejected manuscripts to a spit-polish finish. Writing is hard work, yes, but it doesn’t have to be difficult. —Eva Marie Everson, best-selling and multiple award-winning author, conference director, president of Word Weavers International, Inc.

If you want to increase your chance of hearing yes instead of sorry or not a fit for our list at this time, this book is for you. If you want to develop stronger story plots with characters that are hard to put down, this book is for you. Through McCarthy’s checklists and helpful exercises and corresponding examples, you will learn how to raise the tension, hone your voice, and polish your manuscript. I need this book for my clients and the many conferees I meet at writer’s conferences around the country. Thank you, Zoe. A huge, #thumbsup, for Tailor Your Fiction Manuscript in 30 Days.  —Diana L. Flegal, literary agent, and freelance editor


Tailor Your Fiction Manuscript is a self-editing encyclopedia! Each chapter sets up the targeted technique, examples show what to look for in your manuscript, then proven actions are provided to take your writing to the next level. Whether you are a seasoned writer or a newbie, you need this book! —Sally Shupe, freelance editor, aspiring author

McCarthy crafted an amazing self-help book that will strengthen any writer, whether new or seasoned, with guidance and self-evaluation tools. —Erin Unger, author of Practicing Murder, releasing in 2019

Need to rework your book? Zoe M. McCarthy’s step-by-step reference guide leads you through the process, helping you fight feeling overwhelmed and wrangle your manuscript and into publishable shape in 30 days. Tailor Your Manuscript delivers a clear and comprehensive action plan. —Elizabeth Spann Craig, Twitteriffic owner, bestselling author of the Myrtle Clover Mysteries, the Southern Quilting Mysteries, and the Memphis Barbeque Mysteries http://elizabethspanncraig.com/blog/

Adding Sounds to Scenes is a Sound Practice

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I finished reading Tailor Your Fiction Manuscript in 30 Days. I have AND will highly recommend it to anyone who dabbles in fiction. It’s one of the best “how to” books I’ve ever read.

—Marsha Hubler, Director Montrose Christian Writers Conference

See more about Tailor Your Fiction Manuscript in 30 Days at the end of the post.

Writers know how important it is that their characters use their five senses in stories. Last month, I spoke about scents and tastes. Today, we’ll focus on sounds. Unlike scents and tastes, sound verbs and types seem to be limitless.

Creating Words for Sounds

Some readers enjoy a created word for a sound, such as ba-lop. Other readers dislike this practice and prefer writers use the commonly accepted words for sounds, such as bang. You or your publisher may have a preference as to whether you create the sound in a scene, use a commonly accepted word, or tell the sound.

Examples:

Casey ran full speed toward Sam. Ba-lop! Sam looked up from the ground, trying to regain his breath. “Why … did … you … tackle me?”

Casey ran full speed toward Sam. Bam! Sam looked up from the ground, trying to regain his breath. “Why … did … you … tackle me?”

Casey ran full speed toward Sam and collided with him in a loud thud. Sam looked up from the ground, trying to regain his breath. “Why … did … you … tackle me?”

Whether a commonly used sound is listed in dictionaries varies among dictionaries. One dictionary had bang but not bam. Another dictionary included both.

If I make up a word for a sound, I treat it as if it’s an uncommonly encountered foreign word. I write it in italics the first time I use the sound.

Types of Sounds and Examples

I’ll leave spoken words and interjections to dialogue and concentrate on other sources of sounds.

image by Pezibear
  • Engine: rasped, grated, clanked, purred, rattled
  • Liquid: splashed, dripped, plunked, babbled, crashed
  • Vocal: bawled, giggled, mumbled, chattered, blubbered
  • Walking: crunched gravel, swished through leaves, stomped, padded, shuffled
  • Air or Breathing: belched, gasped, swooshed, coughed, wheezed
  • Animal and insect: buzzed, hissed, whinnied, fluttered, woofed
  • Metallic: clanged, clinked, dinged, clanked, pealed
  • House: creaked, squeaked, groaned, shutters flapped, chinked
  • Hushed: sighed, whispered, fizzed, whirred, shushed
  • Rhythmic: puttered, rat-tat-tatted, pitter-pattered, trilled, clip-clopped
  • Staccato: hail stones pinged, popcorn popped, the alarm bleeped, stiletto heels tapped
  • Continuous or lengthy: rumbled, moaned, boomed, droned, yowled

For more example of sounds, ask online for examples in the above types of sounds.

Examples of Verbs That Introduce Sounds

image by GDJ
  • Emitted
  • Blasted
  • Sounded
  • Echoed
  • Reverberated
  • Discharged
  • Emanated
  • Expelled
  • Issued
  • Radiated
  • Released
  • Sent
  • Spewed
  • Transmitted
  • Thrummed
  • Wailed
  • Screamed
  • Roared
  • Clashed
  • Spattered

Examples of Sound Adjectives

image by geralt
  • Raucous
  • Brassy
  • Whiny
  • Dulcet
  • Lilting
  • Musical
  • Deafening
  • Piercing
  • Sharp
  • Blaring
  • Muffled
  • Rustling

What are sounds you use for cooking?

Buy Link

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is TYFMI30D-Print-5.75x8.89.jpeg

Zoe McCarthy’s book, Tailor Your Fiction Manuscript in 30 Days, is a fresh and innovative refocusing of your novel or novella. Through a few simple—and fun—steps, Zoe helps writers take their not-ready-for-publication and/or rejected manuscripts to a spit-polish finish. Writing is hard work, yes, but it doesn’t have to be difficult. —Eva Marie Everson, best-selling and multiple award-winning author, conference director, president of Word Weavers International, Inc.

If you want to increase your chance of hearing yes instead of sorry or not a fit for our list at this time, this book is for you. If you want to develop stronger story plots with characters that are hard to put down, this book is for you. Through McCarthy’s checklists and helpful exercises and corresponding examples, you will learn how to raise the tension, hone your voice, and polish your manuscript. I need this book for my clients and the many conferees I meet at writer’s conferences around the country. Thank you, Zoe. A huge, #thumbsup, for Tailor Your Fiction Manuscript in 30 Days.  —Diana L. Flegal, literary agent, and freelance editor

Tailor Your Fiction Manuscript is a self-editing encyclopedia! Each chapter sets up the targeted technique, examples show what to look for in your manuscript, then proven actions are provided to take your writing to the next level. Whether you are a seasoned writer or a newbie, you need this book! —Sally Shupe, freelance editor, aspiring author

McCarthy crafted an amazing self-help book that will strengthen any writer, whether new or seasoned, with guidance and self-evaluation tools. —Erin Unger, author of Practicing Murder, releasing in 2019

Need to rework your book? Zoe M. McCarthy’s step-by-step reference guide leads you through the process, helping you fight feeling overwhelmed and wrangle your manuscript and into publishable shape in 30 days. Tailor Your Manuscript delivers a clear and comprehensive action plan. —Elizabeth Spann Craig, Twitteriffic owner, bestselling author of the Myrtle Clover Mysteries, the Southern Quilting Mysteries, and the Memphis Barbeque Mysteries http://elizabethspanncraig.com/blog/

10-Item Manuscript Checklist When You’re Under a Deadline

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Tailor Your Fiction Manuscript in 30 Days is designed to shape a not-yet submitted, rejected, or self-published manuscript with low ratings into a book that shines. The method can also be a guiding resource for writers starting a manuscript. See details below.



Ideally, authors would like use a comprehensive checklist to prepare their manuscripts before submitting them to an freelance editor or a publisher. But what if you’re on a fast-approaching deadline? Here are ten areas to review in each scene before letting your manuscript go.

1.  Search for awkward sentences. For example, separate into multiple sentences, rewrite passive passages, and reduce wordiness for sentences such as this one: Tom was hurt by a large, gray elephant when the bull flipped him into the air as poachers from the east stampeded the herd by driving their large, gray land rovers that had tusks tied to their hoods with rope behind the herd.

2. Take your movie camera and capture what you see and hear during the scene. Determine whether you used enough of what you captured so that the character and reader will experience the setting.

image by ThomasWolter

3.  Check that your character has used, hopefully, all five senses in the scene—what he sees, tastes, touches, smells, and hears.

4. Look for that zinger that spices up your dialogue.

  • Clever remark skillfully delivered
  • Shocking or unexpected observation
  • Bold truth
  • Dry or humorous comment
image by geralt

5. Re-read the opening to make sure you’ve dropped the reader into the action and grounded the reader in the scene’s mood and the who, when, and where.

6.  Review the ending to ensure you’ve left the reader anxious to know what’s going to happen next.

7.  Check paragraphs’ ending words. Have you backloaded paragraphs with a strong word that gives the gist of the paragraph instead of a vague word, such as him, it, or was?

8. Research for accuracy a place, item, job, or personality you’ve introduce into the scene.

9. Enter the scene into a program like ProWritingAid to find style, grammar, overuse, and sticky-sentence problems. 

10. Have your word processing reader read your scene to you to catch typos, errors, and weird-sounding sentences.

What’s on your quick checklist to do before you send off your manuscript? 

Buy Link

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is TYFMI30D-Print-5.75x8.89.jpeg

Zoe McCarthy’s book, Tailor Your Fiction Manuscript in 30 Days, is a fresh and innovative refocusing of your novel or novella. Through a few simple—and fun—steps, Zoe helps writers take their not-ready-for-publication and/or rejected manuscripts to a spit-polish finish. Writing is hard work, yes, but it doesn’t have to be difficult. —Eva Marie Everson, best-selling and multiple award-winning author, conference director, president of Word Weavers International, Inc.

If you want to increase your chance of hearing yes instead of sorry or not a fit for our list at this time, this book is for you. If you want to develop stronger story plots with characters that are hard to put down, this book is for you. Through McCarthy’s checklists and helpful exercises and corresponding examples, you will learn how to raise the tension, hone your voice, and polish your manuscript. I need this book for my clients and the many conferees I meet at writer’s conferences around the country. Thank you, Zoe. A huge, #thumbsup, for Tailor Your Fiction Manuscript in 30 Days.  —Diana L. Flegal, literary agent, and freelance editor

Tailor Your Fiction Manuscript is a self-editing encyclopedia! Each chapter sets up the targeted technique, examples show what to look for in your manuscript, then proven actions are provided to take your writing to the next level. Whether you are a seasoned writer or a newbie, you need this book! —Sally Shupe, freelance editor, aspiring author

McCarthy crafted an amazing self-help book that will strengthen any writer, whether new or seasoned, with guidance and self-evaluation tools. —Erin Unger, author of Practicing Murder, releasing in 2019

Need to rework your book? Zoe M. McCarthy’s step-by-step reference guide leads you through the process, helping you fight feeling overwhelmed and wrangle your manuscript and into publishable shape in 30 days. Tailor Your Manuscript delivers a clear and comprehensive action plan. —Elizabeth Spann Craig, Twitteriffic owner, bestselling author of the Myrtle Clover Mysteries, the Southern Quilting Mysteries, and the Memphis Barbeque Mysteries http://elizabethspanncraig.com/blog/