Posted by Angelica R. Jackson
Road Trip Wednesday is a "Blog Carnival," where YA Highway's contributors and followers post a weekly writing- or reading-related question and answer it on their blogs. You can hop from destination to destination and get everybody's unique take on the topic.
This week's topic: The Five Senses. How you use them in your writing, how you are inspired by them, pictorial essays, that character with smelly socks, books that have used them well, the ones that are currently missing from your work, etc.
Since I pay a lot of attention to details around me in real life, I think I do a pretty thorough job of covering all the senses in my writing. Sometimes, too thorough--I had a crit partner complain about all the bad smells in my historical novel: vomit, sewage, rotting food, animals, etc. His complaint only made me more proud of those sections--I'd actually grossed him out with writing on a page!
But not all of the sensory descriptions are gross-out. I have some tender touches, gorgeous scenery, whispering ghosts, comforting smells like the love interest's balsam shave soap, and my favorite, FOOD.
In this last dive into revisions, I noticed how much I talk about food in Spirits from the Vasty Deep. How could I not, when she goes to such exotic climes as Spain, Jamaica, and Antigua? The MC, Olivia, is lucky enough to board with a fantastic cook and here's a little teaser section of when Olivia first arrives at her home (this one doesn't go into the taste and smell as much as other sections, but be glad because she's been seasick and vomiting):
The grand name of dining hall led me to picture a richly formal room, but it was quite the opposite. A large sturdy table, like you might find in a farm kitchen, dominated the room, groaning under the food laid out. Pottery dishes held the local fare of baked yams, fresh mangoes and melon, scones and clotted cream. Hard-cooked eggs, a cold chicken and loaves of dark, soft bread rounded out the meal.
"Are we waiting on others to join us?" I asked as Duncan held the chair out for his mother.
Before Mrs. MacInnes could answer, Duncan laughed out loud.
"I warned you she would put out a spread at tea to welcome me home. She believes I eat nothing but moldy salt pork and hardtack when I am at sea," he said in a stage whisper as he held my chair for me.
"Well, you are always thinner when you come back," she said.
"Only because sailing is hard work—not because I starve. I'm all muscle."
To demonstrate, instead of sliding Sonia's chair in he picked it up with her in it and placed her closer to the table. She squealed and said, "Otra vez." Instead of fulfilling her request of "again", he patted Sonia's shoulder and took his place beside his mother. As Duncan filled his plate, he did nothing to disprove his mother's notion of starvation. He took servings of everything, eating with impeccable manners—but much gusto. I confined Sonia and myself to the eggs, melon and bread.
"Aren't you hungry?" Mrs. MacInnes asked.
"I'm sorry we can't do justice to your offering, but Sonia and I suffered from the ‘mal de mer’ on the entire trip from Jamaica to Antigua."
"Then you are wise to stick to bland foods," Mrs. MacInnes said. "Are there any interesting new delicacies from the States you can share with me when you're recovered? I hear brown bear is popular in California."
I gaped at her, spoon raised halfway to my mouth. I had never even seen a real bear, except the stuffed one standing in the corner of my father’s study, let alone tasted one.
"Mother, surely you don't expect us to have a bear haunch in our baggage?" Duncan said.
"Of course not, young man, I merely thought she might have some good receipts to share." Well used to his teasing, Mrs. MacInnes did not take the bait. Perhaps she could teach me how to do that—he always seemed to be able to get the best of me with his banter.
Hope you enjoyed my tease! And no, that's not a typo above--they used "receipts" rather than "recipes" in this time period.
What about you--do you find yourself using one sense more heavily than others in your writing?
P.S. Don't forget, I'll be out of touch electronically for a bit. I've set up auto posts for the next two Mondays (including a recipe on the 15th--more food!)