When I first began writing, I blogged a lot about the craft of writing and my thoughts on writing, pretty much as I went along. One series of posts I did almost ten years ago was on using the senses in writing romance. Since I’m once again looking through the writer’s eye at the craft of writing, I thought I’d revisit these posts over the next few weeks, look at them with a more experienced eye and revise as the need arises.
The mechanics of the sense of touch are different from those of the other four senses. Sight, smell, taste, and sound are each located in one specific part of the body. Touch is located everywhere. This sense originates in the dermis, the deepest layer of skin. It contains thousands of nerve receptors that, when stimulated, carry messages of pain or pleasure to the brain via the spinal cord.
Of greatest interest to the writer, however, is the fact that touch is experienced over every inch of the body. Immediately, the possibilities for the use of this sense explode. Any part of a character’s body can be described as feeling some stimulus and can therefore be affected by it. Heroines can delight in cool sand between their toes, revel in the heat of the sun on their face, or shiver as an ice-cube slides down their back.
Describing an intimate touch is the stock in trade of the romance writer. We’ve all written love scenes and, from sweet to scorching hot, the sense of touch figures prominently. A kiss is a mere touch of the lips—but in the hands of a skillful wordsmith, it is an event that will rock the reader to her soul. Well written, smokin’ love scenes transport the reader into the scene most often through depiction of the sense of touch. Catherine Texier, in the article Awaken Her Senses, describes exactly how revealing a man’s touch can be: “The touch of a man is his imprint, his signature. How soft or callous his hands are, how dexterous his fingers, how insolent and bold, how sensual or rough his handling of your body. . . . Each one of his moves reveals his character, his mood of the moment, and his knowledge of you.”
When all is said and done, however, what we are talking about is the skillful use of language. Writers create everything using the exact words that will evoke the senses in the reader. Channel that language into your writing and your readers will “feel” right along with your characters.
A quick excerpt from my newly released romance Only Scandal Will Do, the hero and heroine’s first kiss hopefully illustrates that all important sense of touch:
She felt every magnificent swirl of his tongue, not only in her mouth but in the deep, private places of her body as well. Katarina moaned into his mouth, the low, guttural sound coming from some unknown reservoir of need. Pressing him to her, her hands slid up the steely hard muscles of his back, evident even through his cloak and clothes.
Do you include the sense of touch in your writing as much as you should? Do you create opportunities for your reader to feel everything right along with the characters? Please leave a comment and thanks for sharing!
Thanks for coming by! Join me next week when I explore the use of smell in romance writing.