When we write we always try to convey our stories using not just what is seen, but what is experienced by the other senses, the sounds of the waves or the wind in the trees, the taste of the fog or stream from a volcanic vent, the smell of the air of a new place as you step out of the aeroplane door, the feel of the grasses on your skin as you walk through a meadow or the coat of a creature stroke… All of these add depth to our descriptions, and make the scenes we are trying to depict vivid.

However there are other senses we experience which might be linked to the five, for example the feeling of heat or cold… this is known as thermoception. We are unconsciously aware of it all the time, adjusting the temperature to what is comfortable almost without thinking about it – opening or closing windows, undoing or doing up buttons, putting on or taking off hats, scarves, woolly socks… But do we get our characters to do these things – or do we just describe them as feeling warm or cool – maybe adding details about the weather?

I admit it’s something I’ve not really properly thought about; however, without going to ridiculous extremes, I am going to try to bring this extra sense into my writing… I might try a little exercise where I write something specifically to try this… Recently I have had a character without a story, Gus, going walking on his own; so far there have been maybe half a dozen disconnected scenes, but I am beginning to feel a narrative coming on! As I pursue this I am going to consciously think about  thermoception and see if I can convey what Gus is experiencing as he wanders by the sea – possibly with an on-shore wind or a change in temperature as the tide turns…

 

2 thoughts on “It’s a bit chilly in here…

  1. Aldous Huxley solved the problem with the feelies in Brave New World. I had a similar experience years ago when I tried LSD. Huxley died of an overdose of LSD and his last words were Why? then Why not? That’s the way I’m going to check out.

    Liked by 1 person

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