Thursday, June 11, 2009

Q-Tips for Penetrating Writing (#2)

Sensory writing can be influential. Humans gather information via the five senses: see, hear, feel, smell and taste. This multi-sensory approach to communication helps us makes sense of the world, as it does help us become more sensitive to others.

You will ascertain if I am following on the right scent. Read your outgoing e-mails. How many of these have words like looking forward, hear from you, feel free, see what I mean, heard, overlooked, view, point of view, etc?

Read a column by a journalist, and you will notice such language, mainly see, hear and feel. If the topic orientates to food, you will read words like smell, flavour, texture, mouth feel, aroma and taste. You may have heard the following before:

The sweet smell of success!

Love is bitter-sweet!

His actions left a sour taste in his mouth.

Her remarks were in poor taste.

You could smell his fear.

Something smells funny…

Animals can detect our fear; we smell different when we are alarmed. When you are afraid, your skin secretes more acidic sweat – which is sour in appearance. Thus, it is known that runners and cyclists have been chased by dogs, and even bitten.

Our language is peppered with such utterances, yet they hold relevance because we collect the information through our open channels, i.e. senses. When you sit down to consider it, things either make sense, or not. Your colleague may be speaking nonsense. Jane Austen wrote about ‘Sense and Sensibility’; sensible can also mean 'sense-able'. Shakespeare also wrote in highly sensorial words; for instance in a monologue from Hamlet:

Speak the speech, I pray you, as I  pronounced  it to you, trippingly on the tongue. But if you mouth it, as many of our players do, I had as lief the town crier spoke my lines. Nor do not saw the air too much with your hand, thus, by use all gently, for in the very torrent, tempest, and (as I may say) whirlwind of your passion, you must acquire and beget a temperance that may give it smoothness.’

Does this make sense to you?

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