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Why You Should Write With All the Senses… Except Sight

This guest post is by Lizzie Davey. Lizzie is a tea-loving freelance travel writer who spends her time between the UK and Barcelona. She blogs about the wonder of travel and the craft of writing at Wanderful World. Be sure to grab her free guide to becoming a Travelling Storyteller! Thanks Lizzy!

The smell of incense is thick and heady, mingling with the hours-old scent of burnt toast. Outside, it’s quiet except for the shrill yap of a dog or the rogue shriek of a child’s laugh. Inside, it’s cold – numb fingers tapping away at smooth, overused keys. The aftertaste of coffee lingers in my mouth, simultaneously bitter and sweet.

What did you notice about this paragraph?

Write with your senses

Yep, that’s right, I used all of the senses except sight.

How to Show, Don’t Tell Without the Sense of Sight

Now, even though I didn’t describe any physical attributes to you, I bet that these words have conjured up a picture in your mind anyway.

Maybe you’ve been transported back to your musty old student room where you burnt incense day and night, or maybe you’re imagining a cosy old coffee shop, filled with the warming scent of hot drinks.

Showing not telling is a common tip amongst writers, but what does that even mean?

For me it means exposing the reader to a scene via their emotions and sensory organs. It’s transporting them to a specific moment and dropping them right into the middle of it. It’s creating a three-dimensional setting rather than just giving a rundown of what’s visible in the immediate surroundings.

I’m a travel writer by day, which means I spend countless hours weaving words about other places – anything from big, busy cities to sprawling, white-sand beaches.

It’s easy to describe a place at face value, but travel writing is all about inspiring people to get out there and explore the world.

The best way to do this? By encouraging them to imagine they’re already there, of course!

How do you do this? Engage all the senses… except sight.

Why Should You Use All the Senses… Except Sight?

Ultimately, writing is simply a cluster of words on a page. It doesn’t have a deep, aesthetic quality like a painting so, as writers, we have to engage the reader’s senses and encourage them to paint a picture in their mind.

When writing, you want the reader to be able to imagine an entire scene coming to life simply through your words.

But we don’t want them to just imagine it—oh, no—we want them to feel like they’re actually there in the midst of the action. How?

Well, our memories are tapped into our senses and a trigger of these senses brings whole scenarios rushing back into our minds.

Think about it this way: how many times have you not been able to describe how a place made you feel but you can vividly remember the smell and the sounds? How many times has a fleeting smell jogged your memory but you can’t quite put your finger on where the memory took place?

It’s the same with writing.

The reader can connect their memories of smells, sounds, tastes, and touch to situations that you’ve written about, bringing them closer to the story (ergo, putting them in the middle of the action) and making it more meaningful to them.

Because that’s the ultimate aim of writing, isn’t it? To make people feel something.

Now close your eyes for a moment.

Do you notice that your other senses become more attuned? This is replicated in writing that doesn’t offer any physical descriptions. The reader’s secondary senses become stronger which allows them to fill in the gaps.

How To Successfully Pull Off Not Using Sight

Consider these two paragraphs:

The blue sky hung overhead, light and airy and as fresh as the white canopies that shaded the grills. Long, flat fish lay limply across the bars, turning from a shiny silver to a charred brown in no time at all. Underfoot, the concrete walkway glared with the brightness of the midday sun, just a few steps from the white sand that disappeared out into the blue sea.

And now this one:

The warmth of the midday sun hung close, making clothes sticky and foreheads sweat. Nearby, the gentle lapping of the waves mingled with the chirrup of birds flying overhead and distant chatter. Someone laughed loudly, cutlery clattered, and the buttery smell of grilled fish whirled upwards on the light breeze.

What are you thinking of after that?

The first paragraph paints a fairly comprehensive picture of scene, but it feels two-dimensional, don’t you think? The second paragraph, however, encourages the reader to fill in the gaps. What kind of setting do they picture with the sound of waves and birds and the smell of grilled fish?

It’s easy to see how you can use all the senses but sight when you put two paragraphs describing the same scene together like this. Remember:

  • Put yourself in the scene – what can you hear? What can you smell? Relay that information. Easy!
  • Get tactile – touch objects you’re trying to describe (if you can get your hands on them) for first-hand knowledge.
  • For every scene, try and drop in a descriptor for each sense.

Here’s another example, where I describe an object of interest.

The box was small and brown. On top there was a rectangular white label filled with thick black writing that had smudged at the edges. Each side was framed with sloppily applied grey parcel tape.

And:

The box had smooth surfaces interrupted with the bubbly bump of parcel tape. It was heavy to hold and smelt like musty old photographs and faraway lands. When it moved there was a soft tap, tap, tap and a low scratching sound like claws on carpet.

Which description is more intriguing?

It’s not difficult to use all the senses when writing, but sometimes we forget and find ourselves hung up on the way things look (isn’t that always the way?!). But it’s definitely a skill worth practicing so you can bring worlds to life and place your reader where they’re supposed to be – right in the centre of the action.

A good piece of writing transports the reader, and to do that you need to engage all the senses—not just sight.

How about you? Which senses are your favorite to write with? Let us know in the comments section.

PRACTICE

Spend fifteen minutes writing about your surroundings or a place you’ve been to recently using all the senses except sight. When your time is up, post your practice in the comments for feedback. And if you post, please be sure to reply back to your fellow writers.

Happy writing!

About Guest Blogger

This article is by a guest blogger. Would you like to write for The Write Practice? Check out our guest post guidelines.

  • At Styx River

    Summer stings my throat
    The smell of hot sun on parched granite.
    The full pungent sweet bloom of Peppermint trees
    The earthy sediment of a slow running billabong
    The crusty dry dirt of a long dry season
    The sweet scent of old burnt jarrah coals; cast-offs from a past winter campfire.

    Rosellas cracking nuts, ruffling leaves, cawing
    Crickets beating, buzzing, gnawing the stillness away
    Magpies squabbling and squawking at the thickness of midday
    Bush flies, a war zone, mini missiles hissing
    The lonely tired dribble of fresh water, a mere trickle,
    Softly tinkling over marbled stone; and falling.

    Heat seeps in
    Thick haze swallows my skin
    The insolent un-silence of nature whirs and whirls into an unavoidable din.
    Submerge me in the sweet dark cold of river
    Suspend me in the tanin tainted scent of the slow summer flow
    The bristle of river across hot skin
    And I am sinking
    In natures brilliance
    Once again.

    • I love this Dawn! Very moving and great use of all the senses.

    • Lynn Bowie

      I saw myself running with friends in the hot summer sun when i was so small, and kids could travel on foot or on bikes, great distances from their home without fear of abduction. We went back home to drink from the hose, and start our adventures all over. Wonderful.

      • That’s great. Isn’t it wonderful when memories get evoked.
        Thanks for reading and commenting.

        • Lynn Bowie

          you are welcome

    • Alisha Joy

      I really enjoyed this. I felt submerging into your world. “Magpies squabbling and squawking at the thickness of midday” Great line!

      • Hi Alisha
        Yes, that’s my favourite line too. (The gem that appears, as we’ve discussed before :-))

    • I found this unusual and engaging. Wonderful use of words here. Makes me thirsty just reading it!

      • Cheers Abigail.
        I found it unusual too. Sometimes you’ve just got to go with the flow and not be too judging with what the practice prompt prompts. 🙂
        Thanks for commenting.

    • christih

      This was great! I’d look forward to reading more!

      • Awwhh. Thanks.
        I think I’ll add it to my summer anthology collection… an in progress anthology of ‘Seasons’.
        Thanks for reading and commenting.

  • DizzyJade

    “Girls, they wanna have fun-un! Oh girls just wanna have fun!” They sang. Sarah sighed. She loved these girls, but they could get annoying. One of them yelled at her to sing along. Sarah wanted to yell back that she was driving, but it was useless.
    They would never have heard her. “Some boys take a beautiful girl…”

    Suddenly, Sarah felt something slam into the side of the car. She could hear the tires
    screeching somewhere below her, then they stopped. Sarah felt her stomach turn
    upside down and around. She was falling. She was falling!

    But she could still feel the buckle holding her into the seat. Sarah heard her friends
    screaming, yelling for something to stop. But what would stop? Time? Sarah knew
    it was no use.

    Wind rushed by her, her hair flying around wildly, and her face started pulling backward. She caught the smell of salt for a moment. She closed her eyes.

    The noise stopped. Everything seemed to stop. Something cool and liquid forced its way down into Sarah’s lungs. She could feel something moving next to her; her
    friend trying to get out. She thought about moving too, but her head was
    already foggy. There was no avoiding this.

    Something ear shattering pierced the silence. Sarah recognized it as another scream. Don’t waste your breath, she almost called back, before stopping herself. Something
    smooth ran by her cheek, so sharp it almost cut her skin. The windows must have
    broken, she thought. We really are going to die here.

    Her lungs started screaming. Sarah wanted to too. Flailing around, she found her sea buckle and pressed against it.

    It was stuck.

    Panic filled Sarah’s mind. She pressed harder, nearly getting her finger stuck. It still
    wouldn’t open. One of her friends swam by her, trying to help. It still wouldn’t
    budge.

    She started going limp. No, she pleaded to no one; I don’t want to die here. She felt
    herself loosing conscience.

    Sarah heard a loud splash, though she couldn’t figure out what it meant. She felt someone breathing into her mouth, trying to prolong her life. She smelled the water,
    though how could she? Salt burned her tongue.

    And then air rushed back into her lungs.

    And she heard sirens.

    And Sarah fell into a deep sleep.

    • I love how action-packed this is! I particular like how you’ve used the senses (like the smell of salt and the whipping wind) to add to the tension.

    • I’m impressed at how you conveyed the shock and panic of the character! It was a little confusing for me at first, because I didn’t catch where the car fell into water, but then things made sense.

    • Keontez George

      I felt every word of this. Nice job! I felt as if I was discovering everything with Sarah. I think I learned a lot just from this post, not only about writing without using sight, but the way you structured the sentences. How you described what she was feeling and then having her react to it, really puts the reader in her shoes. Thanks for sharing this!

    • Super!

    • Misty

      Nice job.

  • Thanks for having me here Joe!

  • Alisha Joy

    The clock utters a tale tale click and she braces herself, shoulders rising reflexively as five rusty, coo-coo’s assault the room. She’d thought it was bad at 1, then 2 but 5… the sound claws its way down her spine. Silence returns, pouring over her icy and thick. She stretches her legs in turn, first the right, then the left. Her muscles curse in sharp, aching protest. She counts six pops as she arches her back into the stiff wood of the chair. Her body’s complaints collide with the muffled sounds of other people’s apartments—the dull thud of a bass turned up too high, the piercing whines of a child’s cartoon, the animated chatter of a one-sided phone conversation.

    “Hello! Can anybody hear me?” syllables grate against her fatigued vocal chords. She had meant to shout, and maybe she had, but her words are swallowed up, devoured by mounds of newspaper clipping.

    A rustle behind her…

    Chains clink a cruel imitation of champagne flutes coming together in some grand celebration, mocking her as she strains to see over her shoulder.

    A slow, rhythmic clap…

    The clomp of heavy boots…

    Wait. Two…

    No.

    Three distinct rhythms…

    Papers rustle.

    She gasps and air, stale and humid, reeking of mildew and urine pours into her lungs.

    • Beautiful use of language. I found the imagery to be captivating. At the beginning of the piece where you describe the clicking of the clock and the character of the story where her shoulders rise reflexively, I could get a great sense of her anticipation and restlessness. I could also get a great sense of her nervousness where you mention “the racket claws it’s way down her spine…” I also could feel a sense of anxiety in the character as she is constantly bombarded by all of the noise. Beautiful work her with lovely details. As a reader, I thought you did a remarkable job in enabling me to participate in the overall experience. Throughout the duration of time it took me to read this piece, I had the sense of literally becoming the character in the story, if only for a brief moment in time. That’s what all great writing does. I love everything about this piece. Your writing style is eloquent and elegant. Overall, I found this piece of writing to be enchanting.

    • Helaine Grenova

      I love this! Just reading it I feel trapped and stifled. I really feel for the narrator, who appears to be chained up and trapped. I would hate to be there.

    • Keontez George

      I like this, great use of words to draw the emotion out of the reader.

    • Great piece of work Alisha.
      I really like the background clatter of other peoples apartments and the samples you used.

      And ‘… She counts six pops as she arches her back…’ I could feel the pain and the relief.
      Regards Dawn

    • Susan W A

      Love all the sensory descriptions in the first paragraph.

  • Krithika Rangarajan

    Oh my – Lizzie, you are an artist who molds words into magnificent sensory experiences! #HUGSSS

    One of my goals for this year is to become a travel writer, so rest assured you will be seeing a lot more of me on your blog 😉

    THANK YOU

    Kitto

  • Finally getting up the courage to walk in the snow, I suit up, leaving behind the comfort of a squashy couch and radiant heat of a warm fire and stepping out into the elements. It’s refreshing, but painful. The cold immediately invades my body, stealing my breath, lancing my eyes, squirming under my hat into my ears, and shocking the tips of my fingers. A gust of wind picks up speed across the field and blows itself at me, hardening the flesh on my face.

    Stalwart, unwavering, I put one sluggish foot before another and begin slogging in that monotonous rhythm of crunching and creaking boots on snow. Step after step breaks through the icy crust and compacts the fluffy layers beneath, and it’s the only sound I can hear from under my wooly earflaps. As I pass under trees, the warmth of the sun ebbs and flows, sometimes thawing my face for a moment before another wind hurries to attach icicles to my nose.

    I don’t stop until my thighs start burning, then it’s time to take a seat on a convenient bench. I can hear birdsong now, curious tweets and chirrups relaying gossip from tree to tree in a dozen languages. The only other sound in this snow-muffled world is the dry rattle of leaves making escape attempts in the branches overhead. I can’t even smell the cedar trees or the scent of earth. It’s like a sheet has been thrown over the world, muffling every sense save the sense of cold. My fingers still hurt, but my face is losing feeling at this point. Amazing how cold is such a relief in July, when we heap glasses high with ice and lemonade, and run through the sprinkler in bikinis. In mid-February it’s a punishment. I dig my fingernails into the icy sheet of snow that covers the bench and take a taste. The shock is enough to send my tongue reeling, I send the stuff flying as far as I can throw it. Half an hour later, my tongue still feels chilled and lumpy inside my mouth.

    And that’s enough fun for me. Banging off my boots at the door, I head straight for the squashy couch and curl up in the softest blanket I own. Nothing makes you appreciate warmth more than a winter walk.

    • Lynn Bowie

      Don’t forget the hot chocolate or tea, cause I need some right now! LOL
      Isn’t is funny how the winter can be so beautiful and the sound of winter silence be so deafening? you did a great job describing the elements, so much so that anyone who has never experienced this, would either be happy they didn’t or strive to know it! your winter wonderland is wonderful.

    • Susan W A

      You have an amazing array of effective descriptions of the cold. Love it.

  • Guest

    The black boy lurks through the streets of Harlem at night. The dark night obscures the lurking things that hide beneath the walls and the slums. The sound and the rumble of the cars and the buses and the taxis reach the boy’s ears, mixing and meshing into a tremor of a unison roar. The shouts of angry black men, the cursing of the teens and hoodlums, the noise of stabbing and clawing and gunshots, the tremor of parking cars, the smog around the alleys, the smell of littered trash polluting and defiling whatever clean air was left.

    The aroma from the hot dog stand reached the black boy’s nostrils, intensifying the saliva in his mouth and ensnaring him to walk to the stand as a zombie walks to his victim. The smell of fried chicken in the local fried-chicken palace—the smell of succulent chicken clothed in crusty golden breadcrums—also reached to him, making him dream of plunking down his few ounces of money to bite into one of those nice and large pieces, allowing the flavor of the meat to engulf and swim around his mouth

  • The black boy lurks through the streets of Harlem at night. The dark night obscures the lurking things that hide beneath the walls and the slums. The sound and the rumble of the cars and the buses and the taxis reach the boy’s ears, mixing and meshing into a tremor of a unison roar. The shouts of angry black men, the cursing of the teens and hoodlums, the noise of stabbing and clawing and gunshots, the tremor of parking cars, the smog around the alleys, the smell of littered trash polluting and defiling whatever clean air was left.

    The aroma from the hot dog stand reached the black boy’s nostrils, intensifying the saliva in his mouth and ensnaring him to walk to the stand as a zombie walks to his victim. The smell of fried chicken in the local fried-chicken palace—the smell of succulent chicken clothed in crusty golden breadcrumbs—also reached to him, making him dream of plunking down his few ounces of money to bite into one of those nice and large pieces, allowing the flavor of the meat to engulf and swim around his mouth and the crisp breadcrumbs to mix and blend with the tender meat. If only he could go into his uncle’s place and taste of the flavor-laced jambalaya to satisfy him. Oh the perfect blend of spice, of chicken, of rice, and of sausage would satisfy his own tastes, if only just one spoonful of it. But oh no, his uncle would hate him, for he ran away from home and his return would break the hearts of his folks.

    Yet in the wonderful and diverse world of Harlem, with the smells of favorite foods and memorable times, there was the unfortunate stench of crime that pervaded the night streets, the malodor of young and old blood that would wet the alleys and cause a retching in any person who passed by or any who lived there. The black boy’s brother died there. He remembered it—the brother’s blood laying as a pool to coat the dead body, which was left there and which was allowed to decay and stink up the alley. It took a while before the alley was freed of the odor of death, only to be ruined again.

    Harlem roared, its smells a mixture of the flavorful and the off-putting, the sounds a mixture of inviting and uninviting, the people a mixture of unsavory and savory, and the air a mixture of pollution and un-pollution.

    • Lynn Bowie

      I remember Harlem and just recently the girl who did my nails, stated she grew up there. (We both are in Florida now).I love the zombie walk to the hot dog stand….that’s clear and humorous…and all the flavors and intensities…so true…it appears you speak from experiences…

      • Thanks very much.

        Btw, I have never really been to Harlem. I just took what little I know and concocted this entire 417-word vignette.

        • Lynn Bowie

          especially good job, then.

  • christih

    “The kids had finished eating and run off. Allison lay on her stomach on the thick quilt, feeling just a bit too warm as the sun hit her back and spread heat through her heavy jacket. Too lazy to adjust her coat, she simply let the warmth envelop her and embraced the feeling of overheating. She lay with her book propped on the ground and the smell of the fresh grass was heady. The long blades tickled her fingers and face as she turned the pages of her book slowly. The quiet din of the children shouting and laughing in the
    background made a comfortable white noise as she snacked on cinnamon-sugar crackers. She could still taste the sickly sweet punch from the juice box she had finished off and the sharp citrus from the orange that had made her fingers stick to the pages as she turned them. As she lay reading and listening and feeling a slight wind brush against her face she knew this was a moment to be savored.”

    This was really hard! I think I overdid it. What do you think?

    • Lynn Bowie

      this made me smile, nothing i love better than the smell of fresh grass (except when it’s mowed). white noise? are you a therapist? they use that. who doesn’t know the taste of sickly sweet punch….argh….and sharp citrus, as in flavor? i can feel the sting….i like it!

    • Helaine Grenova

      I love this imagery. It really places me in the scene, especially since I’ve done something very similar to that before. This definitely puts me in the scene, though I would never read a book with sticky fingers, I can imagine that vividly. Good job!

    • Alisha Joy

      I can so relate to this! you brought be back to so many summer days but I definitely would have taken that coat off… I know that feeling well! =) great piece.

    • Susan W A

      This is lovely. Not overdone. Each sentence brings forth an image to be “savored” by the senses. Great accomplishment.

    • I believe you have done a terrific job with this piece, especially with appealing to the senses. Throughout the duration of time I read this piece, I not only felt like I was a part of the whole experience, but it felt like I had become the character, experienceing everything through her entire being. Marvelous write. I love it.

  • Howling winds called out to me as I stood on the pier overlooking sparkling waters that shone from the glare of the sun that crept into my eyes. Fire consumed them with itching in this melodramatic area of nature. Ducks and geese sang to their own tune, fluttering away in a dance of the soul. Shimmering in the waters was my reflection as I leaned over the rails of the pier to take in the salty air. My lungs filled with the tantalizing aromas that crept into my soul, and causal reward marked its platitude in the arms of a dove that flew high above me. It’s wings fluffy, I remember wish I could
    lay my head in the down feathers of my pillow and let my dreams take me away in this delightful trance. Boats rattled on by with their motors thundering through my ears.

    Tides of the lake crashed unto the shore, rubbing against feet on the spectators who stood on the sandy shore letting the sand rub in between their toes where the heat stung the flesh and melted into the warmth that was the soles of their feet.

    A couple embraced in a kiss, while gazing into one another eyes. Gently the man stroked the woman’s silky hair that blew in the wind. She absorbed the sweetness of his cinnamon that consumed him. Standing side by side with their arms embracing, they squinted their eyes and peered out into the distance of the lake to take notice of the burning rays of the sun.

    I was enveloped between two onlookers that joined me on the pier. A child tossed his fishing rod over the pier in the hopes of catching some fish. But all he caught were some feathers that floated in the water, left behind by some ducks no longer breathing. Their foul scent filled the air, bring about a heaviness in my heart. My eyes welled up with an overflowing rage that burned my spirit as satin tears flowed from my misty eyes.

    • Alisha Joy

      That last part with the feathers and the duck no longer breathing broke my heart and made me re-read the whole thing. beautiful and moving.

      • Thank you so much, Alisha Joy. It’s really gratifying to know that my story has made such a strong impact. I appreciate your kind words, for taking the time to read my story and for taking the time to comment on it. I glad you liked it. It’s been both an honor and priviledge to write for this web page.

    • Lynn Bowie

      i have peered over many a peer, and the things you see below can be both good like sea gulls and boaters, or sad like half eaten fish and like you say, dead sea foul. my favorite peer extends way across the ocean, and now can I not only smell the salt air, bait and fish, but hear the kids running on the boards, people chattering and boats traveling in the distance. Thanks!

      • My pleasure, Lynn Bowie. I’m glad you liked this piece. I enjoyed writing it.

  • Allyson Vondran

    Sabrina felt her breath quicken as she touched the scarred skin on her wrist. The indents from recent ‘incidents’ caught her attention most. They carved words into her soul the darkness wrapping around her. She was sure though, that they wouldn’t notice, they couldn’t think that, they had though she had quit.

    Disappointment.
    The only word that could make her regret it. The feeling of complete and utter power completely controlled her. The Morales that she had spent decades building shattering beneath her feet as she tried to keep it all tied together. The chains that bound her biting into her abused skin, the cool metal giving her instant satisfaction that vanished when the mess was clean.

    The wind blew around Sabrina’s shivering form as she stared at the icy depths below. The mess of waves taunting her, the smooth liquid teasing and persuading her. The shouts of people begging her no fading as the stability of the metal railing vanished the only sensation being the icy chill that stayed with her as ice invaded her resistant lungs.

    • Lynn Bowie

      This is a deep story. I feel I can read between the lines. It makes me want to reach out to you and ask “Are you ok?” If that was the meaning, you did a great job.

    • Wolf271

      Wow. That was amazing. Scary, deep, but amazing! 🙂

    • Susan W A

      ohhh…
      Among others, I like, “They carved words into her soul” ; “The only word that could make her regret it” ; “the smooth liquid teasing and persuading her”; “… fading as the stability of the metal railing vanished”

  • Helaine Grenova

    Rome in the summertime cloaked in hot, heavy and sticky air. Every breath is like drowning anew. The breeze is just enough to make the palm trees sway, but not enough to dispel the humidity. There are only two cures to the heat, the cool fountains that are on most corners, and gelato. The fountains are good, but gelato is better. Thick, creamy Italian ice cream, smooth and cold, fixes every major complaint. With
    the taste of chocolate or strawberry on your tongue, how can the heat be
    bothersome?

    The crowd is thick and crowded, tourists every one of them. No respectable Roman would be out in this heat; they are all having a siesta or waiting around to pickpocket the unsuspecting tourist. Every guidebook in the world tells tourists to keep their money in a secure pocket, where no one can steal it, but few listen. It’ll never happen to me, they say. Ha, wrong. The overwhelming crowds jostling together, shoving,
    bumping and squeezing through miniscule cracks create a virtual field day for
    pickpockets.

    The scent of pizza dough and smoke filter through the hazy air competing for dominance. No street corner is complete without a few smoking loafers, and no street is complete without a homemade pizza shop. Outdoor cafés or fast food, it doesn’t matter,all are made by Roman hands and are better than any American attempt.

    • EndlessExposition

      Rome in the summer is amazing 🙂 I’m still an Athens girl, though

      • Helaine Grenova

        If I had been to Athens before I might have written about it, but since I haven’t, Rome it is. I wish I could go see Athens, but that is for a different trip

    • Alisha Joy

      You transported me! I’ve been to Rome three times and every time someone in the group was pick pocketed.. so that part cracked me up. Everyone thinking it won’t happen to them! ha! =)

    • Keontez George

      I liked this piece. Makes me want to go to Rome now. Thanks for the tips on the pickpockets too. 🙂

    • Susan W A

      Fun to read. Among others, I like, “The fountains are good, but gelato is better.” ; “…filter through the hazy air competing for dominance.”

  • Lynn Bowie

    Right now, as I close my eyes to complete this assignment, I am tapping keys slowly on my laptop, letter by letter, mind’s eye at work, for the next fifteen minutes. No need to look as I hear the click click click of each letter formation. Each tap has a
    sound, not distinct from the other, but unique in its own right as words flow
    and define the moment. I can hear the humming of the PC, the distant rumbling
    of traffic and a very remote sound of an engine, high very far, trailing away
    to some destination. Maybe the rumbles vibrate passengers toward a vacation,
    business, or better yet into the secure arms and sweet smell of a loved one. Outside,
    the fresh rain and chilly gloom blankets the otherwise warm, salty Florida air
    and I think how wonderful it really is to be here. Northerners are numb from freezing
    cold, icy temperatures causing nose hair to clang like wind chimes, while searching for the relief of Easter flowers like hyacinths and tulips. Battling dense snow piles and black ice competes with the freedom of usual travel, as citizens attempt to seek normality for the day.

    These thoughts resonate with memories of many years ago, when scooping
    mittens like tiny shovels into the snow, and tasting the virgin sparkle of each
    magical snow flake melting in my mouth was refreshing pureness. I remember clear
    broken icicles sticking to my tiny warm tongue, the crunching noise like frozen
    celery stalks, each bite crushing between my jaws, cold and solid, and the
    vibration resonating in my eardrums. Shuttering with eyes still shut, I think to
    myself that today my fragile teeth would never endure such extreme activity,
    and the action of chewing frozen ice actually makes me grimace, like irritating
    fingernails on a chalkboard, or chewing on a wet towel. The magic of memories.

    Instantly, reality interrupts, reminding me of the residual flavor of morning coffee and the slight hunger pangs churning inside my upper abdomen. Coffee is good, but
    sometimes the combination of sugar, cream and dark brew leaves me feeling nauseated, like now, causing my face to slightly grimace as waves of warm saliva fill
    my mouth. I smile as I hear the moans and groans of an awaking bear from the
    depths of his sleepy dark cave. It’s my fiancé; he works third shift and
    grumbles now as he stretches out his tightened muscles so that he can get up
    and start his day, often trailing me for love and conversation. There, he’s walking, and I hear him ask “What is that girl doing?” The bear relieves himself with sounds of
    satisfaction, and flushes the toilet. My time is up, and it’s time to go.

    Thank you,

    Lynn

    • Susan W A

      I really enjoyed reading this. Nice job.

      One suggestion, before I forget. As if your piece wasn’t full enough of the senses, but when I read “… while searching for the relief of Easter flowers like hyacinth and tulips,” i immediately thought of the thick, sweet scent of hyacinths and thought you could incorporate the scent rather than what, for me, just became a visual of the flowers.

      Among others, some of the phrases I enjoyed are: “Each tap has asound, not distinct from the other, but unique in its own right”; “Maybe the rumbles vibrate passengers toward a vacation, business, or better yet into the secure arms and sweet smell of a loved one.” ; “icy temperatures causing nose hair to clang like wind chimes” ; “when scooping mittens like tiny shovels into the snow, and tasting the virgin sparkle of each magical snow flake melting in my mouth was refreshing pureness.”

      I also like how you used the coffee thoughts to switch from savoring your memories back to reality.

      Thanks.

      • Lynn Bowie

        yes on the scent of the flowers. those aside from lilies, hyacinth and tulips can almost be overwhelming. thanks for the input!!

    • Wolf271

      This is very sweet 🙂

      • Lynn Bowie

        it was fun writing….a slight long maybe….

        • Wolf271

          I always find it hard to be descriptive. I never know how to start but when I do it ends up really long so my writing is either not descriptive at all or way too descriptive! I think for this exercise it was ok to make it a little too long. 🙂

  • Sandra D

    I tried. ~

    Tiny nodules of texture rippled under her fingers, exciting the fine whorls in each finger tip. As her eyes darted back and forth and she felt the warmth of her screen, she felt a wave of muscle squeeze in her forearm, as her fingers punched down giving buttons. The air around her cool and exciting lifted the hair of her arms on end. Then with an inhale of breath, she let her heavy eye lids drape down and let herself smell the dusty odor of the room. Listened to the buzzing of electronic equipment all around her.

    Home. It had been this place that she dwelled in, but never noticed before. Could not have. She had been numb to everything, closed off smells, sounds, the feels of things, the faint warmth coming through the curtain. She hadn’t known she could still feel a thing. So long had it been, she didn’t know it were even possible. A loud thump echoed in her chest.

    • Wolf271

      This is a nice piece of writing. You capture the atmosphere really well. I really like the ending. 🙂

      • Sandra D

        Thanks. I appreciate that.

    • Susan W A

      Cool. A real nice mixture.

  • Keontez George

    *Shrugs* I tried. I feel its a little purple, but I think I succeeded in the assignment.

    She leaned along a tent pole and closed her eyes. The night market was so tight that people bumped against her as they moved along, oblivious to her as they attended to their own wants and needs. Some of the merchants called for passersby to sample their wares, some haggled a deal with other customers. The smell of jasmine and rosewater was a relief to the smell of the musty alleyway she had just came out of. Just like most cities, the alleyways smelled of pisspots and the unbathed homeless people who couldn’t afford a hovel to stay in.

    • Wolf271

      I think this was a success as you conjure up the image of busy streets and alleyways. You have used the senses very effectively. It’s very good. 🙂

      • Keontez George

        Thanks!

    • Susan W A

      This puts me in the location and makes me want to know more about her story.

      • Keontez George

        *Blush* I’m sorry I didn’t flesh it out more. I struggled with this assignment a bit and felt that it was all purple prose, to the point where I just said “Eff it!” and posted. Thanks for the comment, I’m glad that it caught your interest.

        • Susan W A

          Yes! and please know that my comment was a compliment, not a criticism. Of course in 15 minutes or an hour or two or in one paragraph, you’re not going to explain your character. By putting forth the prose that you did, it created an interest in your readers to want to keep reading.
          I think many of us want to apologize for the lack of perfection in the pieces we post (I know I do). For me, I try to remind myself that that’s why there is a 15 minute time limit, so we can put forth whatever it is we create in that moment. PLUS, the TWP community is remarkable in accepting and valuing writers of all levels, and regardless of their level, the pieces they boldly entrust to others to read. Thus, we not only get to practice our writing, we get to practice our commitment to valuing ourselves.

    • Lynn Bowie

      yeah, where did she come from and where is she going?

      • Keontez George

        Sorry! This assignment was hard for me. Description is something that I have a problem with and mostly skip if I have to in my short stories. I didn’t even concentrate on fleshing out the character or anything, I was just worried about trying to describe the night market. Glad that it caught your interest and thanks for the comment.

  • Wolf271

    This was definitely a lot harder than I thought it would be but this is what I managed to come up with. 🙂

    I can hear the wind whispering outside as it probes for a way in. Leaning against the radiator, I can feel the slight vibrations it makes as it starts up. My feet are still cold as the warth hasn’t filled the room yet. Filtering through the floorboards are the gentle sounds of evening chatter. A sense of calm has descended on the street. The buzzing of traffic has faded away. The air in the room tastes a little stale and there is a definite smell of cat lingering in the room. Through it all, the clock ticks away, marking the passage of time, and my pen scratches away at the paper.

    • Susan W A

      I like it. It captures the essence of one moment of noticing.

      Among others, I like, “…the wind whispering outside as it probes for a way in.”

      • Wolf271

        Thanks 🙂

    • Lynn Bowie

      i have been in that place…radiator, chatter, stale room, and cat smell. ancient memory. thanks!

      • Wolf271

        Thanks for your feedback! 🙂

  • Susan W A

    This isn’t completely on point with the prompt, and the sound effects are off, but this is an idea I wanted to try, and it seemed close enough, plus I wanted to practice and post something. [… just as the title says …]

    Perfect Imperfection

    “Yay! I remembered how to cast on! Aren’t you proud of me?” .tk … swsh …………..tk … swsh “Not like you, huh, Mom? You’d be…” tk.swsh.tk.swsh.tk.swsh. Cool, long, thin cylinders of metal peek from the warm, purple wool, the blue tapered tips worn silver from use. .tk … swsh ………….tk … swsh. Eighty-two fuzzy purple circles wrapped around the knitting needles to honor a lifetime. Now we have nothing but time to share.

    “Oh, darn, I messed up. Gee, I guess I can’t ask you how to fix it. Hee hee.” Conversation is relaxed … except her mouth is stretched open, not to utter a response, but to release the rasping air which cannot hold in the uneven gentle heaves of her chest; motionless silence, as with anticipation, interspersed with single staccato moves.

    Soft yarn taut against the inside tip of my index finger. “I still can’t do it like you;” the thumb moves into place to help carry the yarn over and around. tk … swsh over and around… tk … swsh …over and around.

    My fingertips run the width of my creation, stopping to celebrate the staggered gaps; not part of the design, but part of the design of life. A sacred textile with perfect imperfections.

    • Wolf271

      This is a very nice piece. It works well. I like the tk … swsh. You have created a nice atmosphere. 🙂

      • Susan W A

        Thanks very much for your feedback!

    • So much shown in this scene: visuals offered with the senses of sound and touch, relationship and sentiment offered with a one way conversation.
      And the end so beautifully knitted together.
      The needle sounds are brilliant, punctuating this intimate scene with a lifetime of memories and handed down skills – daughter and mother.

      Thanks Susan.

      • Susan W A

        oh…Dawn, thank you for sharing your perspective. Your beautifully expressed, insightful thoughts touch my heart and honor my process.

  • kathunsworth

    Wonderful.

  • Chloee

    The dark room buries me in a blanket of shadows. I crouch low, cradling myself from the never ending nightmare. The floorboard creak from years of use and the air turns as cold as deaths hand as I try to stay sane.

    The memories of nightmares fill my mind as I clung hopelessly to myself trying to calm down. My breathing gets deep and slow as I strain to dfocus on something, a anything. Outside I can hear the wind howling. The room takes a menacing form, the shadows snarl, twisting into hideous figures looming over me carefully picking away at my sanity. I tried to stay still, but I could still hear the voices.

    My throat burned with the screams that were stuck trying to claw their way out.

    The sounds of the fallen echoed throughout the room, their frightening whispers and horrific cries for help seem to echo off the walls of the little room.

    I try to push them out, telling myself they’re not real but it’s hard to say that when I’m one.

    • Susan W A

      Wow…powerful emotions. The mind doing it’s best not to get sucked in by the false frightening illusions. The mind struggling with inner conflicts which are only amplified by the surroundings. This piece caught me off guard and portrayed the torment viscerally. Among other parts, I was affected by, “the room takes a menacing form, the shadows snarl, twisting into hideous figures looming over me carefully picking away at my sanity.”

  • Tanisha

    The air is dry and hot in my apartment thanks to the radiator, which is blasting an opera of noisy bangs and clangs. Boiled cabbage fumes launch an assault on my defenseless nose as they creep in under my front door.

    Exhilarating giggles soar through the thick, heavy air.

    ” Mommy, it’s so stinky in here. Did you fart?” Asked my sugary four year old.

    Fssssss. The cinnamon room spray released into the air gives up its fight as quickly as I do.

    “Yeah it was me.”

    • Susan W A

      Sensorially (and otherwise) delightful. Thanks for the fun read. You had me on “blasting an opera of noisy bangs and clangs”.

    • Gary G Little

      I could have been there. Tanisha, this was good, really good.

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  • Misty

    The little girl felt the minuscule grains of the sand engulf her bare feet as she sat on the rough edge of the sandbox. She could easily hear the laughter of the other children- no, aliens- behind her as they went about their limited time on the school courtyards. The metallic creaking of the rickety swings irked her, along with the snappy lash of their jumpropes hitting the ground as the “kids” sang menial tunes to go along with it. She didn’t like them because she couldn’t understand them- or was it the other way around?
    Gripping the smooth, orangic pages of her book, the girl continued in her efforts to interpret the book. She had snatched it from her mother’s nightstand when she hadn’t been looking. While the book was hopelessly complicated, she still loved every moment of reading it, as if it were some sort of secret to be unlocked.
    It was a quick moment before she realized how sweaty she was. Wiping the warm, wet sheen of sweat from her arms and legs, the young girl quickly went back to the world where chocolate was a crumbly powder, razors were in short supply, and where lies became the truth.
    Not long after, she heard the sound of footsteps approaching.
    A sense of dread swept over her. She knew who it was.
    “Hey, Mumble.”
    She stood up, and turned around to look at the offender.
    Figures. It was the school bully.
    “What are you doing all alone by yourself, freakazoid?”
    She wanted to scream at this kid; to tell him to shove off, or perhaps sink her teeth deep into his arm until she could get the metallic taste of his blood on the tip of her tounge.
    Refusing to respond, she shifted from foot to foot, the sand ebbing around with her movement.
    “Answer me, retard!”
    The moment he shoved her into the sand box, the din of the schoolyard came to a halt.
    Her entire backside felt itchy now, the sand grains comfortably making their way into places where she’d prefer they wouldn’t be at.
    “You’re about as dumb as that monkey you call your pappy!”
    She felt really warm, both from the sun’s heat and from her anger.
    Her mind became a blur as she got out from the sandbox, and felt the solid impact of her hand slam against the kid’s face. She heard an oof as she kicked him in his stomach, and heard him howl in pain. The kid collapsed on the asphalt ground, but she continued to kick him repeatedly, even when he resorted to begging for mercy.
    It was only when she began to bludgeon him with the book, and draw blood did she realize what she’d done.

  • Guest

    Coffee before me, iPad up and keyboard connected, the mushy feel of the keys beckoning to be pressed, but I wonder if I should write this. Damn, just do it.

    I am a survivor. Yes of cancer, both prostate and melanoma, but I think I am mostly a survivor of suicide. Not mine, obviously, though there are times I feel like it was mine. I survive her, but I never forget her. I never cease wondering if there were not one thing that I might have done, just one, no matter how small, that might have made a difference, that I might have lived the passed 7 seven years with her. I’ve been told time and time again, no there was nothing I could have done, no it was only a matter of time, no, if not then, then another time would have presented itself. But that does not stop me from wondering and thinking maybe if I had done this, or that.

    I am a survivor. I walk the skywalk, see someone in front of me and think that’s Jimmie, and then think no it can’t be. I smell a smell and think of Jimmie. I hear a song, and being in a chorus we have many songs that flood my memory with Jimmie. One song I do not, will not sing, “Fields of Gold”, because I think of Jimmie and that last awful day. I see her on the floor, I hear the voice of the 911 operator, I remember the clarity of mind to make sure that once I start, I not stop CPR. I put the dogs in the office, run downstairs and unlock the front door. “Feel her body rise when I kiss her mouth”? No, I hear her ribs break as I begin CPR, listening to the 911 operator talking to me. I hear the knock on the front door. I hear an ER doctor asking if there is a DNR, and I hear my voice, answering yes. I do not sing “Fields of Gold” because I am a survivor.

    I am a survivor. And, believe me, there are many times that it sucks.

  • Guest

    Coffee before me, iPad up and keyboard connected, the mushy feel of the keys beckoning to be pressed, but I wonder if I should write this. Damn, just do it.

    I am a survivor. Yes of cancer, both prostate and melanoma, but I think I am mostly a survivor of suicide. Not mine, obviously, though there are times I feel like it was mine. I survive her, but I never forget her. I never cease wondering if there were not one thing that I might have done, just one, no matter how small, that might have made a difference, that I might have lived the passed 7 seven years with her. I’ve been told time and time again, no there was nothing I could have done, no it was only a matter of time, no, if not then, then another time would have presented itself. But that does not stop me from wondering and thinking maybe if I had done this, or that.

    I am a survivor. I walk the skywalk, see someone in front of me and think that’s Jimmie, and then think no it can’t be. I smell a smell and think of Jimmie. I hear a song, and being in a chorus we have many songs that flood my memory with Jimmie. One song I do not, will not sing, “Fields of Gold”, because I think of Jimmie and that last awful day. I see her on the floor, I hear the voice of the 911 operator, I remember the clarity of mind to make sure that once I start, I not stop CPR. I put the dogs in the office, run downstairs and unlock the front door. “Feel her body rise when I kiss her mouth”? No, I hear her ribs break as I begin CPR, listening to the 911 operator talking to me. I hear the knock on the front door. I hear an ER doctor asking if there is a DNR, and I hear my voice, answering yes. I do not sing Fields of Gold because I am a survivor.

    I am a survivor. And, believe me, there are many times that it sucks.