The hotel room I am staying in depresses me. Shades of brown from the bedspread to the carpet and drapes and even the beige wallpaper and gold-framed art are lacking an accent colour. But what is worse, a bland monochromatic colour scheme or loud colours of every shade shouting at you?
To add colour to our writing maybe we should paint it on as an accent rather than pour on the whole gallon. Writing through our five senses of smell, taste, touch, hearing, and sight adds pops of colour.
Here is a writing exercise to stimulate your senses. Think back on your day and answer these questions:
What smell annoyed you today? (Mustiness, stale air, exhaust fumes?)
2. What was your favourite taste today? (Salty chips, sweet carbs, sour pickles?)
What was a displeasing taste today? ( Bitter medicine, moldy food, curdled coffee?)
3. Texture shows your character’s personality. Try it!
What was your favourite food texture? (Crispy and crunchy or soft and creamy?)
What food texture turned you off today? (Dry, greasy, pasty?)
How about clothing textures? How does that tag feel in your collar? Do you prefer bare feet or wearing slippers? How about cold feet beside you at night?
4. What do you hear right now? Is it pleasing or annoying? What was a pleasing sound today? A disturbing sound? Some sounds can be both pleasing and disturbing: a baby crying, a fan running, the sound of traffic, the deep call of a bass guitar, or the plaintive cry of a violin.
5. We often use our sense of sight when we write, but we can try to see things we often overlook. For example, “Nathan twirled the basketball at his side with one hand. He bent over his coach and studied the game plan.” Rather than telling my reader that Nathan is tall and large, I have tried to show his size.
Back to my hotel room . . . I could order roast beef for room service, but I probably won’t be able to find it in my brown room. I think I will go for the chicken curry to spice things up a bit.
If Pam could spend all day in her kitchen baking pies, brownies, and making turkey dinner for friends, she would. But Murray Pura once told her to write first and then bake—advice that she is trying to stick with these days, except, of course, when her grandchildren stop in for milk and cookies.