Prepared by: Rhéal Nadeau and updated by Patricia Johnson
Posted on: Sun, 21 Nov 2004
Reposted on: Sun, 20 Nov 2005
This exercise falls into the "Involving
the senses" series.
Involving all the senses is a powerful
tool to liven up our writing
in the reader. Too often, however, writers limit themselves to visual
descriptions and dialogue. This yields a world with no taste, no smell,
One way to explore the senses is to
imagine what things would be
without them. So for this exercise, write a scene where the
can't see, for whatever reason (blindness, darkness, whatever.) How
that person perceive the world? (This exercise is similar to the one
involving total silence found at
Try to use all the other senses: smell,
taste, touch, hearing. Show
experience, don't just narrate it.
When critiquing, mention specifics about
how the story addressed the
of vision: was the story's approach unique, believable; was the absence
vision and the presence of the other senses successful within the story
not and why.
Recommended word limit: 300 words.
Patricia Johnson's wrap-up
Posted on: Wed, 22 Dec 2004
Thanks to everyone who participated in
The Lights Out! critiques noted the
emphasis we put on the sense of
when we write stories, sometimes at the expense of details from the
four senses. One critique noted a story might work as creative
Another mentioned showing needed to be balanced with telling in the
submissions. Critiques explored the problems that a sighted person
easily overlook. Tension was introduced with small details and the
of the narrator. One critique mentioned the way hearing and the sense
smell sharpen immediately in the dark.
This run of the exercise was successful.
The subtle and sometimes
inclusion of sensory details added interest to submissions. A solid
view helped make stories natural and realistic. Writing was so
that in many of the stories it did not seem to be for an exercise
assignment. Endings of some stories were powerful. The narrators stayed
focused on what was important to the story. Clever set-ups with unusual
sensory details led to expanded story possibilities. Stories used
to produce suspense, employed humor and emotional restraint. Stories
many layers of character and sensory detail to be convincing.
For next time let's use dictionaries and a
thesaurus to select words
will provide the best sensory information. Use several sensory details
each of the senses; for instance, note more than one smell, while
remembering to include all the senses within the story. Keep the story
moving. Perhaps use narration to reveal sensory information. Use the
beginning, middle and end of the story to reveal the different senses.
the experiences immediate and real by mixing some telling into the
Stick to the assignment instructions.
Thanks to everyone who participated this
Patricia L. Johnson
Web site created by
Rhéal Nadeau and
the administrators of the Internet Writing Workshop.
Modified by Gayle Surrette.