Monday, November 16, 2009

Guest - Janet Lane Walters

Good morning, everyone! We had an interesting day yesterday...a day without electricity! I found and burned a multitude of candles, got the flashlights out and the old emergency crank radio so we'd have something to listen to other than the creak of an empty house, lol. Then I indulged in my favorite past time - reading!

But you don't care about that, LOL. You want to know who we have visiting us today. Today's guest is multipublished author, Janet Lane Walters. Ms. Walters has a very interesting article on using the senses in our writing. And she's offering a giveaway, so read to the end to find out how you can win.


Using the Senses

During the past few months, I've been busy judging writing contests and one thing I've noted is the absence of senses in other than a pedestrian way. In the world of fantasy, a writer faces an additional challenge. I'm not speaking of the sixth sense. That would take an entire article. The usual five senses are the ones I find either missing or being glossed over. Sight, Sound, taste, smell and touch can be used to bring a person, an object or place come alive.

When a writer of fantasy uses other than sight or sound when describing their world they face a challenge. Sight and sound are easy but there can be a missed opportunity here. Let's look at an example or two of the way senses are used in a fantasy.

His voice sounded mean. While this evokes a picture, how much more does this sentence show the reader what the writer means. His steely tones sliced her composure. Or this rendition. Like icicles, his words stabbed.

She heard footsteps. That's okay but Scuffling sounds on the concrete raises a different and more visit picture.

Clouds drifted across the sky. Try this. Like the sails of phantom ships, clouds sailed the sea colored sky.

He had a large nose. Or. His nose protruded with the sharpness of a hawk's beak.

Now this is a difficult thing to take from one world to another. One way is to coin words to convey the taste.

She tasted the kafene and wrinkled her nose at the bitter taste. Why did the aroma seem more tempting that the flavor. The word kafene evokes coffee.

I once coined a word for one of my books as a spice called gingar to show the flavor was a combination of ginger and garlic.

Here a fantasy writer can run into problems or not. For example if the animals are used, even if they have a different name are like the ones in this world the aromas surrounding them would remain the same. I used coursers for horses in one of my books but retained the smells surrounding them.

But I was jolted out of a read when an author described a flower as resembling the lacy wings of a butterfly and smelled like roses. My head yelled. "If they smell like roses, there must be roses on this world so why not just have roses."

I think this is one of the neglected senses except when one is writing love scenes. Woolen shirts, leather breeches all feel different on the skin. Touching an other world creature also would have a specific sort of touch.

While these examples are short and sweet, using the senses is often neglected, even by me, a writer has to think of the senses when writing for this brings the story to life. Using the senses can lure the reader into any world you choose to create.

We’ve been betrayed." Those words spoken by the Dom and Doma of the Wesren henge awaken their four children—two sets of male-female twins.

Each child has an affinity for one of the four elements—earth, air, fire and earth. In secret, the young teens flee their home to seek a place of safety and teachers to hone their control. They use their emerging talents in ways they never imagined.

Will their quest succeed or will they become pawns of He Who Walks In Darkness?
This book is part 1 of the The Henge Betrayed series

Other books Fantasy only Coming Soon -- The Henge Betrayed -- Refuge. Available now from DiskUs Publishing The Jewels trilogy, The Quest For The White Jewel, The Brotherhood of Mages and The Secret of the Jewels All are suitable for YA or adults. Adults, The Temple of Fyre and The Dragons of Fyre.

Ms. Walters lives in the scenic Hudson Valley, across the river from Washington Irving's home. She's been published since 1968 but the call of a career as a nurse and the need to educate four children made writing a sporadic affair until she retired. Since then She's had nearly 30 books published ranging from YA fantasy, adult fantasy, romance from sweet to spicy, paranormal, mysteries and non fiction. She's finaled in the EPIC contest, won one with her writing buddy Jane Toombs for Becoming Your Own Critique Partner, and finaled twice in the Dream Realm awards. She has five grandchildren and enjoys being with them but writing is her passion.

Janet Lane Walters
Contact Information Eclectic writer

-- Lynda Again
Ms. Walters would like to give away either an ebook of any of her available fantasies or a print copy of those in print. To win a copy, leave a comment here AND email her at by Friday. Good luck!

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Jacqueline Seewald said...

Hi, Janet and Lynda,

I enjoyed reading your post! As a teacher of creative writing at both the high school and college level, I always introduced use of sense imagery early on. I think all writers should work with poetry for a time as it makes the writer more aware of appealing to the senses.

Anonymous said...

Loved the blog!!!


susan said...

until reading your article i never really thought much about the different ways to describe the senses but I surely do adding more of a descriptive word or two it makes a big difference. I like what you suggested very much. susan L.

Chelle Cordero said...

Great blog and good advice. One of the exercises I have challenged students with is to "blindfold themselves and describe objects or setting relying on the other senses - then to switch and plug their ears, etc. By learning to actually USE all of their senses helps them rely less on telling and more on showing.

Jane Toombs said...

This is your writing buddy, Jane. Good post, I need reminding about touch myself, so maybe reading this this will help. I'm not posting this to win a book--heck, I buy them. I just wanted to let you know I liked the post and, who knows, maybe, until I forget again, my characters will be touching everything with feeling . Jane

JL Walters said...

Poetry is a really good mode to explore. One of my few real teachers encouraged me to write poetry and use it as a journal. This was an interesting experiment that I continued for several years ending with reams of poetry that few people have or ever will see. Janet

Jeanmarie Hamilton said...

Great blog Janet and Lynda! Good things to think about and remember when editing our stories. Thanks for the reminders. :-)

Kayla said...

Loved the post!! Very interesting to read and helpful too!! Thanks so much for having it.

Liz said...

Great post, Janet. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed reading your post, Janet.
Patsy H.

SiNn said...

ty for stoping by your work is new to me so i havent had the privlage of reading anything yet but sounds awesome deff would love to read some

ddurance said...

All of this makes sense of course. Use of the senses in writing brings a book to life in ways movies and tv can't even compete.


Anonymous said...

Great post! I never really thought about it but I can sure see what you mean. I'm not a writer and it always amazes me how you do what you do.


Julie Robinson said...

I love similes, metaphors, and analogies, so I really enjoyed your creative writing descriptions using the 5 senses. Thank you for this post. I shall have to add it to my writing tidbits as a reminder to myself. These little things make a big difference.

s7anna said...

Hi Janet,
You're a new author to me; as such I've not had the pleasure of getting to know your work. I look forward to reading your books.

Happy Reading
Anna Shah Hoque

sherry said...

I liked your post it gave me a lot to think about. I always tell people I love to read because when I read a book I use my imagination to see the story.

booklover0226 said...

I enjoyed reading the post about the senses, very interesting.

Tracey D

Anonymous said...

I love descriptions of locations because it puts me into the location of various places in a scene but your blog has given a new perspective. I think if I find books delving into the senses it will put me in touch with characters. Great job on this blog. Two thumbs up.

Susan L

JL Walters said...

And the winner is SiNn. Please email me and make your choice. I wish I could give a book to everyone but that's not possible. Thank you all for reading and making comments. Janet