When I was ill recently, nothing serious just annoying, I was brought face to face with the delightful reality which is a daily addition to the journey of writing. Thanks to a somewhat over zealous ear infection, one of my senses was hamstrung for a while. All I could hear from my right ear was the muffled depths of the deepest sea. Not a debilitating state of affairs but enough to get in the way. Thinking about how this temporary alteration affected me, I considered how easy it is to overlook the value of our senses.
When we read a book, the author has had to create all of the world that the action is taking place within to ensure we can place ourselves in the centre of what’s going on. Descriptions of a landscape allow us to understand completely what’s happening around the character but if you remove all descriptions about that landscape in terms of sound, then suddenly something is missing. No sharp whistling as a wind whips over bare rock. No distant trees creaking thanks to said wind. No leaves or other debris rustling. No animal noise, no nothing. We remove smell from the mix and then we lose that gentle aroma of flowers, the grasses and all the other less pleasant bits which could add much needed ballast to the events being described.
I know that when I write I easily forget to include all the senses. For some reason, smell seems to be the one that goes first. It just falls off the edge of my mind and I have to work really hard to drag it back. As a writer I have to always ensure I use all of the tools in my possession so all of my senses have to come into play all of the time.
Now I know that the world has conspired to remove senses from some. Superheroes have lost senses – Daredevil being a good example – and they do OK. Anyone who has lost one or more senses is clearly still able to enjoy books and films etc. but I want to make sure that I can paint as clear a picture as I can so all who enjoy my stories have the largest, most well rounded experience.
As long as I can remember to use all five and, even consider the addition of the mystical sixth. Does that make sense?