Saturday, October 6, 2012

Naked in Silk: Playing With Sensations

I have a kimono from Japan that I used to wear around my room with nothing underneath. 
One of the things I strive for when writing is in the details. What does the room look like, what does the fabric of the furniture feel like. While that may not seem overly important, I sometimes feel that just a touch of sensation, something the a character notices or feels that's tactile brings a little something extra to a story, makes it a little sweeter or richer. I know I certainly love it when reading a book or a story. I feel like it pulls me further into the character, situation, and setting, builds more of a connection with the world I am looking in on. So in my own writing I try to remember the little things, the even the mundane. Of course for most of it that means research and a field trip day!

Start by touching things in your house from the walls to the coffee maker. Take your clothes out of your closet and molest them shamelessly. Look at the tags and see what they are made of and take notes. Like the note under the picture says, I have a kimono from Japan, and I, when I was thinner, used to get naked and put it on and then go about my business. I declare that silk is one of the softest, soothing fabrics I have ever had the pleasure of wearing/ touching.

After you've played with your household things seek out the elements starting with the basics. Earth, Air, Fire, and Water.

Fire is one of my favorite elements. It warms you when you are cold, provides light, and can entertain. So light a candle and carefully, you don't want to burn yourself, move your fingers over the flame. Watch the flame flicker. If you have a fire place examine how it dances and note how it makes you feel inside. Is there comfort? Is it too hot?
Air is nice as well. Aside from needing it to breathe it can be comforting or annoying. Although you can't see it you certainly can feel it. One of the things I get great pleasure from is lying in my underwear during the early spring and autumn months, when their is a nice breeze, near an open window. I usually like to read then and relax with the breeze blowing over my skin. It's really nice and certainly recommend trying it. I also love sitting outside and letting the wind lift my hair. It's neat to see how the wind plays with the strands.

Water is amazing! Either sitting in a hot tub, warm bath, or a cool pool, it just feels good. to me at least., some people don't like water. But why? Wouldn't that be an interesting character fact? Playing with water from wading in a river, swimming, taking a bath, or filling the sink and just playing with it, take notes on how it feels.

Earth. There are so many things to touch when it comes to earth. Moss, trees from their leaves to their bark. Stones in the sun to those in the shade. Flowers and grass. Take your shoes off and walk in the grass (provided there aren't any stickers those suck). Play in the leaves. One of the things I loved most about working in the family garden when I was younger was playing in dirt. Sure mud is fun, but the dirt was really fun. In the sun it was warm and if it was dry you could grind it down to powder until it was soft. In the shade it was cool and if it was moist it was an interesting texture.

Things in your house and in nature aside there are man made things outside your home that are fun to touch and take note of. Several years ago, when Earth Final Conflict was airing on cable T.V, there was an episode where the Taelons gave a girl who didn't have hands, hands. Real, honest to goodness hands. She was talking to one of the other characters about what she liked to touch the most and she said bricks. I remember thinking that I'd never really paid much attention to bricks so I went outside and felt the bricks along the front of the house. They were rough and at the time they'd been in the sun so they were warm. After that I touched my Dad's car, the big dumpster down the way, and so on. 

So how about an hour or two some afternoon to just touch things? Even if you don't ever put the details in a story, having some fun and just experiencing the different sensations you get from what you feel can be interesting and you might just learn something a little extra about yourself. 



  1. I adore the tactile world. This is great advice, essential really, if one wants to show rather than tell. You focused on the sense of touch primarily. I like this because it's probably the sense we take most for granted aside from the few moments of pleasure or pain that our skin comes into contact with. It's so important to think about the mundane things that we touch and never focus on.

  2. This totally reminds me of a scene in The Master. They have a guy touch and describe the wall and then with his eyes still closed cross the room and touch the window. He did this all day describing what they felt like and then he starts making things up. Like the Window feels like rainbows and freedom and the wall was trap and imprisonment.

    1. That's awesome! I like that - the window feels like a rainbow. It's like at Girl Scout camp we stopped calling colors things like red, blue, and green - colors became: rainbow, glow in the dark, and sparkle. My favorite color was glow in the dark by the way XD