I recently flew home to NJ from Dallas, TX.
With a sore throat. In a storm.
As a result, the hearing in my right ear was compromised.
Like I have a cotton ball tucked snugly and constantly in my ear.
Nothing permanent, but pretty darn annoying.
Most people, especially me, take their senses for granted.
Our senses are like five little superheroes to whom we don’t pay much attention, but who really rule our world.
Not being able to hear as I usually do made me think about how our senses affect our writing.
Do we use our senses as we write?
Interesting question. Our senses surely inspire us.
I know the smell of the salt air at the beach makes me dream of whales and mermaids and deep sea stories.
The feel of the sand gives me ideas about sand castles and buried treasure.
The sight and sound of the crashing waves makes me write about pirates and seagulls and starfish wishes.
But do we use these senses during the writing process? During the typing and reading and thinking and revising?
The answer is most definitely yes!
And even though you’ve probably heard this advice before, because of my current auditory predicament, I am going to focus on the sense of hearing.
Write your stories.
Read your stories.
Hear your stories.
Reading your stories aloud is critical to the writing and revising process.
When you read your stories aloud and float your words in the air, you are able to perceive them in a completely different way.
You can almost taste them!
The bland run-on sentences.
The juicy adjectives.
The past-their-expiration-date adverbs.
Something that looks fine on your computer screen and sounds fine in your head, doesn’t always work quite the same way when heard by your ears.
Your ears will pick up the rhythm of your sentence.
The power of your word choices. The flow of the story.
The mistakes. The successes.
It is the single most important thing you can do as a writer – read your stories aloud.
It’s how children will hear them.
A Small Blue Whale is releasing in October and is illustrated by Lisa Mundorff.
It is about a whale who sets out to find a friend, but along the way uses his senses to ponder the meaning of friendship.
Have you ever thought about what friendship looks like?
Tastes like? What it sounds like? Or feels like?
Probably not, but it is a pretty fun idea to explore.
I like to think that friendship tastes like a mint chocolate chip ice cream cone.
That it sounds like those waves crashing on the sand and smells like that salty air.
That it feels like soft, fluffy cotton balls.
An image that I love.
Only not in my ear!
Beth Ferry lives and writes by the beach in New Jersey where she is influenced by the sea and the sand and the salt. She is the author of Stick and Stone, Land Shark, Pirate’s Perfect Pet and A Small Blue Whale which swims into print on October 24, 2017. You can learn more at www.bethferry.com.