READER FRIDAY: Writing Exercise for Use of All Your Senses (Try It)

Describe a scene (either something from your WIP, or your surroundings, or anything you remember) and use sight, sound, touch, smell AND taste.

Bonus points if you can link it into St Patrick’s Day.

 

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About Jordan Dane

Bestselling, critically-acclaimed author Jordan Dane’s gritty thrillers are ripped from the headlines with vivid settings, intrigue, and dark humor. Publishers Weekly compared her intense novels to Lisa Jackson, Lisa Gardner, and Tami Hoag, naming her debut novel NO ONE HEARD HER SCREAM as Best Books of 2008. She also pens young-adult novels for Harlequin Teen. Formerly an energy sales manager, she now writes full time. Jordan shares her Texas residence with two lucky rescue dogs.

12 thoughts on “READER FRIDAY: Writing Exercise for Use of All Your Senses (Try It)

  1. Thankfully, all Paddy’s senses functioned, as it were, through a glass darkly. The usual men’s room aroma of urine and disinfectant was now augmented by the stomach-churning stench of the vomit, which still burned his throat, offended his tongue and triggered his guilt. The mirror revealed the bleary eyes and the green-beer stained shirt under the unbuttoned green vest. Both faucets dribbled ice-cold water on shaky hands that vainly tried to collect enough to rinse his mouth and wash his face. He could faintly hear his band, struggling bravely without its fiddler. It seemed years ago that he had arrived at the club and sworn to stay sober. Enough of the ‘Paddy’ bit, he told himself. Back to being Ivan.

  2. In stocking feet and white cotton gloves, a fifteen-year old girl sneaks into her mother’s bedroom and places a tray, containing this year’s props, on an ottoman. The props are for “February Face-off,” a game the girl devised, to help her mother cross over to the month of March.
    The girl kneels between the ottoman and bed, close enough so her mother recognizes her face in the dim room, but not so close that she catches the breeze or scent of the girl’s breaths.
    Gently, the girl adjusts the pillows propping up her mother. With hairclips from the tray, she pins her mother’s oily hair behind her ears. She strokes the vertical groove between her mother’s eyebrows, it relaxes a tiny bit.
    Next, she shows her mother a sheet of notebook paper with words printed in large letters: T.S. Eliot was wrong. February is the cruelest month.
    Her mother straightens her posture, just a smidgeon.
    The girl rises and partially opens one window blind, allowing narrow strips of sunlight to stretch across the bed.
    Her mother squints.
    Back in kneeling position, the girl holds up a page torn from a desk calendar:
    February 28
    Her mother reaches for the page, crumples it. Works her mouth into a smirk. She eyes the plate of crisp bacon on the tray. The girl had cooked it up in the microwave, to minimize cooking sounds and smells.
    Two years ago, on February 15th, her mother had detected bacon frying in the kitchen, downstairs. “What’s that crackling sound? And the burning smell?” she had hollered out. “Is the house on fire?”
    “It’s my breakfast,” her father had hollered back. “Today’s my birthday and I have to cook my own friggin bacon!”
    That was the last day the girl heard her father’s voice. He moved out, said he couldn’t take her mother’s winter-long spells anymore.
    Her mother snatches two slices of bacon from the tray, and pops them into her mouth.
    “This is the best friggin bacon I’ve ever tasted,” she says, while still chewing.
    It’s almost time for the tickle. The girl must schedule it, perfectly. If she goes in too soon, it’ll backfire.
    Her mother reaches for more bacon.
    The girl moves fast, tickles under her mother’s arm, aborts the bacon-grab. Her mother stifles a giggle, affects a pout, latches onto the girl’s hand, tickles her back. With her free hand, the girl gets her mother’s other underarm. Her mother laughs loudly, breaks loose, and dashes into the master bathroom with the plate of bacon.
    By the time her mother returns, freshly showered and carrying an empty plate, the girl has stripped off the bed sheets—which haven’t been laundered for months—and opened the windows to freshen the room. The girl and her mother unfold a clean bottom sheet, smooth out its wrinkles, and begin to remake the bed.

  3. Lillian Overstreet

    I stared at the small screen without blinking until my eyes burned—afraid if I looked away I’d miss something. Colors and light flickered over me and cocooned me in the deeper shadows of the dark room. My hand clutched a batch of popcorn, tight. I wouldn’t even take time to eat it. I’d never seen the actress, but she had me riveted, especially after I’d dared to raise the sound of the speakers. That sent me over the edge. Oh my, God. Every gasp felt like my own. Goose bumps raged down my neck and arms, followed by the heat of another hot flash. I licked my lips as perspiration trickled from my scalp.
    When the phone rang, I jumped.

    Popcorn went flying.

    “Damn it.”

    I made the mistake of glancing at the phone display for caller ID. Floaters drifted across my eyes, black dots that shifted wherever I looked, like pesky gnats. Old age definitely wasn’t for sissies, my optometrist had warned me, after he explained floaters were normal for people of a ‘certain’ age. I had to blink twice to see who’d called.

    “Shoo, fly.” I took aim and swatted at the biggest floater in a game I called geezer Skeet.

    I recognized the number before I saw the name. Anyone else I would’ve ignored, but my daughter Grace was an intuitive force of Nature. She’d pester me and make me regret I hadn’t picked up, as if I hung by the phone waiting for her calls. I compromised by wiping my hands and muting the sound, but I wouldn’t stop watching.

    I couldn’t.

    “Hello, Grace.”

    I licked my buttery fingertips before I wiped them off with a napkin, only half-listening to what my daughter had to say as I reached for my wine. Sometimes I pretended to be hard of hearing. Grace’s voice usually broke through my fixation on the screen, but not tonight.

    Oh, God. He’s coming. She’s gonna get it now.

    I nearly choked on a big gulp of burgundy wine. I couldn’t look away. All I wanted was to slam down the receiver. Grace was the last person I should be talking to. She’d ruined everything.

    “Mother, are you listening? You’re not watching another scary movie are you? You know they give you nightmares.”

    “No, honey. I’m not, but your phone sounds like you’re talking through a barrel.”

    My daughter sighed.

    “I said I’ve got a guy coming.”

    “Okay. What time?” I asked.

    She told me, but it didn’t stick. Even if thoughts came with Velcro, I’d be hard pressed to remember stuff once I blinked.

    Well, I’d blinked. Maybe a little on purpose.

    “Write it down, mother. You know how easily you forget at your age. His name is Noah. I’ve already hired him. Remember, my Christmas present to you?”

    I didn’t have to see my daughter’s face through the fiber optics to know she’d given me the eye roll.

    “He comes highly recommended,” she said. “I’ll see he gets paid. Don’t tip him.”

    “Right. Got it. Thank you, Grace.”

    I couldn’t get the words out fast enough. I hung up the phone with my daughter still mumbling. The minute I ended the call, I turned off the mute button and my study filled with gasps.

    More heat rushed to my cheeks as the shadows in my study closed in on me. I was alone with my addiction, one my daughter Grace had instigated when she bought me a computer on the off chance she’d send me an email. No emails came. The contraption had turned into a dust collector until one day when I found its real value.

    I had discovered…computer porn.

  4. That was S’POSED to go under Jordan’s reply to the FIRST (Eric’s) post…

    😐

  5. You can read it here, or you can listen to me perform it here…

    A friend recently asked for some advice on clearing up a stuffy sinus. So Basil asked us, his Leprechaun buddies, our opinions of what they would put up their nose to help with sinus issues.

    Big mistake.

    Boffin suggested tea. He tilted his head back and poured the teat straight up his nose until he started to sputter.

    “How’s that feel Boffin,” asked Berthold ready to write the response down on his clip board.

    Boffin stood upright, a liter of tea gushing forth from his nose with the sound of a burbling brook.

    “Uh…same…’cept everything has a green tint to it!”

    Gnilli tried vinegar.

    “How’s that?”

    “Kinda neutral actually,” Gnilli burbled, head still back. “I’m gonna swish it around…OOOH!!”

    Gnilli had discovered the spot he’d scratched while mining for booger nuggets that morning. The burn set him to prancing around pouring tea in to flush out the vinegar.

    Next came Fillii’s turn. He chose wasabi. The green paste was too thick so they watered it down with the remaining tea and vinegar then poured it in.

    I have never actually seen sound before, at least not without the presence of copious amounts of alternative chemical consciousness enhancers. Fillii let out a scream the likes of which the human mind cannot describe. Even the fish in the fishtank and the turtle in his little pond froze and stared and their little mouths worked saying, “Ow, ow, ow.”

    Twenty minutes later, Fillii picked himself off the ground and wiped the tears from his eyes. He took a deep breath and proclaimed, “Hey that worked right nicely, boyo! Perfect actually! The combination tasted almost just like Grandda’s homemade whiskey!”

    Then Berthold said, “Hey we have a couple bottles left down stairs. We should see how that works for clearing the sinus!”

    Gnilli ran into the crawl space, down to their flat beneath my house, and returned carrying two bottles with yellowed hand written labels. “Grandda’s Speshull Medsin – 1938”.

    He popped the cork on one and started to tip it up. Berthold stopped him.

    “This is all we have left of old Grandda. We don’t wanna waste it. Let’s rig up a line from one of us to the next and just share a single dose experience between us.”

    “Very smart little brother,” said Fillii. He went to the garage and came back with a long clear rubber hose which he then cut into eight three foot sections. “We’ll have to pile up on each other to do it so’s to make sure it carries from brother to brother and the kitchen ceiling isn’t high enough.”

    They moved to the living room where the four of them climbed onto each other’s shoulders until they stood in a twelve-foot stack beneath the fifteen-foot cathedral ceiling. A shadowy sense of doom crept into my mind as I watched them attached the hoses into a nasal daisy chain starting at Filli’s left nostril, out his right nostril and likewise to each of the brothers down to the last leprechaun at the bottom, Berthold.

    Thumb’s ups rose up the stack. Eyes stared up, wide with anticipation. Fillii poured. The golden liquor gurgled into his nose, swirled around his sinus and then ran at full speed down the out tube and into Gnilli’s nose.

    This is where things went wrong(er).

    The booger Gnillii had been mining for earlier dislodged. He gasped out a choked cough as it entered the out tube from his right nostril and jammed half way between him and Boffin.

    “Flush it down! Pour more medsin in Fillii!” he shouted. With the tubes in his nostrils it sounded more like “Bush ib dowd! Bor bor bedsid id piddy!”

    Fillii apparently understood and tipped the rest of the bottle’s contents into his nose.
    The massive flood into freed a large green slimy thing that looked very much like a giant tadpole as it slid under pressure down the hose and through Gnillii’s nose where it picked up a family of very small mice who’d escaped the earlier deluge and continued on the journey until it all hit the booger, breaking it free, and firing the mass into Boffin’s nose. Boffin’s still green eyes burst wide at the sudden intrusion of his brother’s booger, his other brother’s loogie, and a family of very small mice clinging to the back of his eyeballs for dear life.

    The mass of it all got stuck in place, until Boffin sneezed that is. The explosion sent the whole batch straight out his nose and into poor Berthold who was looking up expectantly, as yet unaware of his fate. As the last drops of whiskey ran through Fillii’s now very clean sinus and down the tube, through both of this next brothers sinus caverns until it slammed into the mass at the other end shot firing the whole thing into Berthold’s nostril, immediately packing in a sticky, slimy, boogery, little moust squeaky mass that plugged the back of his throat and set him off to choking.

    As Berthold’s face turned blue, the effects of the nearly century old very high proof whiskey hit Fillii’s brain like a velvet wrapped freight train. And he dropped like a sack of potatoes straight down onto Gnillii’s similarly befuddled head. The pair collapsed onto Boffin, who made a squeak sound like a drunken bathtub duckie and they all collapsed into heap of very inebriated Leprechaun flesh onto their youngest brother Berthold, the one at the bottom, who was choking on their collected bodily fluids and various solid and semi-solid objects.

    The impact of his three elder brothers landing on him that way produced an involuntary Heimlich maneuver. The mass of goo flew out of his right nostril with a sonic boom and headed straight for my wife’s favourite crystal lamp which had been passed down through her family, the last remaining piece from before the Korean War. The booger bomb hit the lamp, shattering it into a million pieces. The whiskey, snot, and everything, including what looked like one of my youngest son’s Lego men, is now spread across my living room soaking into my carpet, and there is a family of very small very drunk mice hiding under my couch, and my wife will be home in two hours.

    So, there you have it. Neti Pot good. Distilled water good.

    Tea, Vinegar, Wasabi, and/or whiskey bad.

    • Booger bomb & your wife’s priceless light fixture. So good. The Irish accents sounded great. Wow. Very impressed.

      I really need to find you an audio project of mine.

    • You have stolen the Irish gift for storytelling–on paper and audio, Berthold. What a Blarney-blessed mash of spirit(s), leprechauns, and of course, bodily fluids and solids. All you’re missing is a vengeful haunt to scare the Bejesus out of the imbibers. Oh, wait! That’s probably the role your wife will take when she gets home.

      Thanks for a rollicking read and listen!

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