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Coming to your senses Tags: Writers Abroad writing senses in writing

I find it hard enough to think of a topic when itís my turn to write the weekly blog post. Itís even harder today in the aftermath of yet more terrorist attacks in London and Kabul. In the end, I decided to focus on something very close to home: using our senses in writing.†

When I first wrote fiction, I described my storiesí settings using only sights and sounds. I portrayed what I fancied my characters could see or hear in their settings. But, of course, in real life we experience our environments with the other three senses, too, even if we donít consciously acknowledge it.

I had a light bulb moment when I read an article (which I canít now find) about describing what all the senses could experience in a fictional setting. Character and plot are the most important elements in fiction, but the setting and how your characters experience it are significant, too. Your readers get a more complete view of the space in which the story takes place and your characters are more rounded if you can evoke what they smell, touch and taste.

Itís not always easy to remember to do this, but a seminar by the novelist Tracey Warr at our local writing group a while ago has helped. One of her exercises particularly resonated with me.

Tracey got us to stroll around the village for 10 minutes, noting everything about the environment and how we experienced it. I noticed the sights and sounds first: the yellow French post van, children shouting and screaming in the school playground, two elderly ladies chatting in the middle of the road, a cat rolling in the dust.

As I focused more deeply, the other senses tuned in. And so I perceived the rough gravel under my sandals, the warmth of the stone bench I sat on, the scent of cut grass, the cool touch of the village fountain and the slight smell of chlorine in the water. I almost picked up and licked one of the pebbles that line the fountain but then I remembered the chlorine.

This exercise reinforced for me the sensorial aspect of writing. Moreover, it sparked off ideas to use in my stories.

So try the wandering about exercise sometime. You can do it alone or with someone else so that you can compare what you found. Itís inspirational and Ö it gets you away from the computer, the internet and too many mugs of coffee!

This Week on Writers Abroad 3rd April
Category: Site News
Tags: Writers Abroad writing ex-pat writers

Those of you on Facebook will have seen that it was awash with April Fools, or Poissons díAvril as they are known in France, on Saturday. Some of them were quite clever Ė like the discovery of a Bronze Age duck to rival†the Uffington White Horse! Material for a story there, perhaps?

Itís Biekeís turn to supply this weekís Monday Muses and she may well provide the opportunity to develop some of those April Fool stories.

Laura is down to write this weekís blog post.

The Bragging stool is occupied this week by Sue with, quelle surprise(!), her †59th consecutive week on Ad Hoc. Chris Nís ĎGramps Retreatí was also chosen for Ad Hoc last week. And Laura has not one but two brags, with two pieces of flash fiction accepted by online journals. Congratulations to all.

WA Magazine. The deadline for copy was 1st April, so if youíve promised something and havenít yet submitted please send it to Jo ASAP so that she can get on with putting the mag together. The pinned post in the Mag forum, Issue 6 Content, shows who is down for what. Red indicates it has been delivered.

The April Challenges and Opportunities are now up, with something for everyone, but feel free to add competitions or writing opportunities. The March Challenge is still up with several pieces for critiquing and suggestions for opportunities.

Following the last formal chat, Jo has started a forum to gather ideas for attracting new members and for meeting their expectations better. There are some interesting thoughts and ideas already, but go along and have your say if you havenít already.

Thatís all this week. If Iíve missed anything or got anything wrong please let me know.

I will be absent for a few days. Iíll try to fill in gaps above before I go.

Happy writing week.

This Week on Writers Abroad 26th December
Category: Site News
Tags: Writers Abroad writing ex-pat writers

Happy Boxing Day! I hope youíve all had a great Christmas so far. For obvious reasons, the past week was quiet on WA and I expect this week will be as well. But if youíre not surrounded by family then itís a good opportunity to get on with some serious writing.

In this weekís blog, Laura describes how her NaNoWriMo project foundered but then morphed into something else. She finished her revised project by her December deadline and is now taking the Christmas period off to refresh herself before taking it up again. Good for Laura, who was courageous in recognising that something wasnít working but saw the continuing possibilities in it.

Monday Muses Ė itís Maggieís turn this week to provide some ideas to whet your imaginationís appetite.

The Bragging Stool is unoccupied this week, unless I have missed something.

The January Challenge, re-titled Opportunities, will shortly be posted up in the Writing Room forum by Lesley, who chaired the last formal meeting. If you have ideas for competitions, publishing opportunities or other writing openings, please post in the comments once the thread is up. The December Challenge is still up with several pieces for critiquing and suggestions for opportunities.

Donít forget to pay your WA membership sub Ė Jo has set up a thread in the Notice Board forum, where you can click on a link and pay directly via PayPal.

Thatís all this week. If Iíve missed anything or got anything wrong please let me know. Iím off to continue with my current WiP. Iíve set a deadline of 15th January to finish it. With a target of 8,000 words per week, Iíve got my work cut out, but Iím determined to get it done.

It only remains to wish everyone the very best for the rest of the Christmas period and a happy, healthy and productive 2017.


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