Use a bit of Sense

When developing a character, I like to think of everything. it’s almost as if I place my character on it examination table.   I go over him from limb-to-limb, cell-to-cell, wondering what makes him tick.

I recently wanted to create a new character and take away one of his senses, but which one which would he lose? Then I thought, well which one would I lose willingly – or, at least, miss the least.

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Would have been my sense of sight? Would I miss watching a morning sunrise or looking into the face of a loved one? Would I miss looking into a garden seeing all the flowers in full bloom or watching a child take his first step? How could I enjoy a quiet snowfall or a thundering storm? No, this isn’t the sense I could lose.

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Maybe I wouldn’t mind losing the sense of smell? Goodness knows there’s enough things to smell throughout my day; the sweet scents coming from my garden flowers or the spicy fragrance from the herbs. Or, that home cooked meal, made from scratch, that you know will stay with you for the whole evening. Or the aroma of the first cup of coffee in the morning, helping wake you up to face your day. No, the sense of smell helps me get through the day, so I don’t want to lose that one either.

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What about the sense of hearing? I have two ears – would it be so awful to lose the sense of sound, or diminish the ability, from just one ear?  Then I remember the beautiful music that gets me through the day, and the sound of laughter from my friends as we share a quiet joke. Or the voice of the newscaster as he tells us what went on during the day and, most importantly, the sounds of my loved ones. No, even though I have two ears, this is one sense I do not want to lose either.

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And what about the sense of taste? It goes along with your sense of smell, but the sense of taste can also protect by keeping you from eating something that is bad. Yet, the special flavor of certain ingredients can help you devour a whole chocolate bar and smile afterwards. Certain distinguishing flavors can bring back memories of food  you’ve had before, like a seasonal fruit. There’s nothing like biting into that first strawberry of the season, or the Christmas cookies only gets baked once a year. While I might lose some weight if I lost my sense of taste, I wouldn’t want to give it up for one pound.

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Then there’s the sense of touch. This is sense can offer us protection by warning you if you are near something too hot or cold. It allows us the luxury of feeling a soft cashmere sweater on your skin, the sweet kiss from your lover. Or the sensation of the smoothness of our baby’s skin and the silkiness of your dog’s soft fur. I wouldn’t want to miss out on the joys the sense of touch can bring either.

I ponder long and hard, finally deciding I don’t want to lose any of my five senses. And it would be cruel-hearted to make my character loose one of theirs. How could I relate to what they’re going through when I can’t experience it myself? Besides, it would make for one miserable character.

So, cherish each of your senses and remember them as you write.

Let your characters feel all they are capable of. Weave each of the 5 senses into your words, so your reader knows what the character is feeling and experiencing.

 

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Write, Weather, Mood

Have you ever noticed how much the weather affects your day-to-day life?

 It’s not just whether it’s raining or cold; it’s the whole feeling of the weather.

On sunny days, you’ll find people smile more and they are more apt to greet you kindly and engage in conversation with you. If it’s one of those perfect weather days, we’ll even prolong the conversation to stay outside to enjoy the weather.

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On a cold rainy day, people barely even look up at you as you walk by. If words are exchange, the  conversation is grumbling about the weather.

As a writer, I’m amazed at how much the weather affects my mood for writing as well.

Seriously, it’s kind of hard to plan a deep dark murder or some villainous crime on a bright sunny day when you’re sitting by the beach. These are the days when I am more in the mood for writing a funny scene or even a romantic one.

However, if you’re curled up inside shivering because of the cold and it’s overcast and rain is hitting the panes of glass of your windows, well that’s different. On a day like this, it doesn’t take too much to put you in the dark mood to write a dark scene. Plots of murder and misdeeds are easy to put down on paper. I have no qualms about putting my main characters in a miserable situation. If I’m miserable, then they can be, too.

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Unfortunately, as a mystery writer, I can’t wait for dark rainy days to write about a murder. My imagination must work overtime to create the mood or scene I’m working on at that moment.  That’s when I often will use other stimuli to help me get in the right frame of mind. Music is a big component as I write, setting the mood for the writing I wish to accomplish. Often going online and looking at pictures (I love Pinterest!) will spark the needed thought process. After all, a picture of a lethal weapon can lead to thoughts of crime.

If these methods don’t work for me, then I find it best to go ahead and write a scene that will fit my mood. I will sneak it into my work in progress later. Or, maybe, put it away in a file to be used in another book.

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No matter what the weather ,as a writer it is important to take control of your work. You should write every day, 1 to 2 paragraphs or 1 to 2 chapters. And if that fails, pick up a book and read someone else’s words. You’ll be amazed at how much this will spark your imagination!

Music for the Moods

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The music we listen to The music we listen to can define who you are; it can tell others all about your personality without your even uttering a word. You might be somebody who loves oldies, or you could be the other extreme and hard rock it your thing. Maybe a bit of jazz set your mood, or maybe some hip-hop will get you to dance. Of course, a lot of will depends upon your age, background and your upbringing, but ultimately each one of us will pick her own style of music that we live by. This will define our character, for each one of us will pick our own music that we listen and live by. But have you ever noticed how the music you listen to can also define your mood or the environment around you. On a cold day it’s overcast and dreary, you might find yourself listening to some classical or jazz music while you sit in front of a warm fire. On a sunny day, while we are heading to the beach the musical will be upbeat and have your feet tapping along with it. If it is sad mood you find yourself in, then you might be listening to something a bit more dark and dreary .Happy mood? You might have the tunes set to song choices that make you smile and sing along. For that more serious mood, you might be listening to classical or nature sounds.

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I find that as a writer that the type of music I was listen to while I’m writing will depend upon vastly the part of the story that I’m writing. If I’m laying groundwork or outline of a new book, for instance, I’m going to be listening to something that just easy-going; often for me that would be sounds of nature set to beautiful instrumental music in the background. However, if I’m working diligently on a critical part of the story I’m going to have more dramatic music in the background; typically I listen to strong instrumentals for that part of the story. If I’m writing a more emotional piece then I’m probably going to be listening to Jazz. Writing about a tropical beach scene I probably have some Jimmy Buffett or Beach Boys playing. And when I finish the book is celebratory music all the way something loud and happy, and maybe just a little crazy (for me). Some old hard rock to just let loose works perfectly for these times. But my mood when I’m writing changes from chapter to chapter, so my iPod is fully loaded with a wide variety to provide me with just the right music for the mood at that moment. So what about you? You may not be a writer, but I bet we can listen to your music selection at almost any time and find out what kind of mood you might be in.

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Think about it… what are you playing right now?

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