Writing with all five senses august2010 ifbcPresentation Transcript
Writing with all five senses Kathleen Flinn Author of The Sharper Your Knife, the Less You Cry
Using all five senses Most writers rely too much on visuals Food writers tend to focus on taste and sight, but neglect smell, sound and the tactile/texture of food yet these are important pieces of information The goal of this exercise is to challenge yourself to work harder, to express yourself more fully by considering the impact of a situation or a food with all your senses.
Consider the lemon
The exercises Sight: Describe a lemon to someone who has never seen one before, but without using the word “lemon” Texture: Describe the exterior or a slice of lemon. What does it feel like? How would you describe it if you had no sight? Sound: Cut the onion in half, then chop it into pieces. Concentrate on the sound. Don’t use the word “knife” or “chopping.” How else would you describe the sound? Smell: Bring one of the chopped pieces to your nose. Sniff. Without using the word “lemony” or “citrus” Taste: Truly contemplate the flavor. What parts of your tongue are affected? How do you feel after tasting it? What does it remind you of?
You can do this exercise on your own. Spend three to five minutes on each sense. Time yourself. The following slides include some of the descriptions captured during this session at IFBC in August 2010.
Sight From the IFBC participants: Dimpled saffron sphere, it[s oval, it’s squashed, it’s nature definition of yellow Elongated Acne-scarred Cheerful yellow globe An outie for a belly button A handful of sunshine Bright yellow Profusions in each hole Stem end, blossom end Spongy White pith
Smell The ocean rushes through my nose, bright crisp My hair vibrates from the tart backwash as the wave of aroma leaves my body Cleaning crew released on a frat house, and all the smells are scrubbed out Tangy acidic floral, softly on the tongue Candy-coated tarts Bracing, cool Nearly tactile Cold morning mist Astringent Spring Medicinal Clean – more polish than elbow grease Freshness like sparkling sailcloth Perfume that I always wear that reminds me of Greece, Turkey & home Fresh young tender Bright vanilla overtones Tropical fruit Reminded of the scent of fresh sweet peas, Sweet captviating determined
Taste The softest needles that I’ve felt on my tongue Pucker shock The cleanse leaves me feeling like I just tasted a young beam of sunshine The sharp acidity Like licking a battery Can’t help but to taste it again A cool juicy burst of tartness Forces my eyes ot squeeze shut Aggressive like food bloggers tweeting Far from shy Sharp bright character Makes my nose tingle Lips pucker Tongue assaulted Crisp coolness From last night’s red wine marathon
Then, consider a recent moment and use at least three senses Give yourself five minutes.
All 5 (or at least three) Reeling from the panic of driving into Seattle the first time; the sounds of honking Glimpses of people’s faces I recognized from Twitter, vague memory After the sip of the cosmo, the heat of the vodka, all was better Sweaty forehead Regal restrooms with no expectations Individually wrapped mints Sour fumes Quiet A plate of gleaming peanut brittle, round taste of caramel, smell hint of sea spray yet tart, the crunch of peanut and then shock – smoke! Bacon – it’s a cliché, everything is better with bacon The lamb cave was in a dark corner of the room Stung by blatant display of Reduced to caveman status by a rack of lamb, herb garlic meat, pink No longer elegant –elemental. Clutching my swag, heavy shoulders Glass clanking, slippery limes Stomach implodes
Gone with the Wind – (Margaret Mitchell)“When the twins left Scarlett standing on the porch of Tara and the last sound of flying hooves had died away, she went back to her chair like a sleepwalker. Her face felt stiff as from pain and her mouth actually hurt from having stretch it, unwillingly, in smiles to prevent the twins from learning her secret. She sat down wearily, tucking one weary, throbbing foot under her, and her heart swelled up with misery until it felt too large for her bosom. She could it beat with odd jerks, her hands went cold, and a feeling of disaster oppressed her. She dug her fingernails into the wood of the chair, trying to break through the wood and thankful for its solid nature, reminding her that some things could not change. “No, no, no…” she heard herself gasp repeatedly. Ashley to marry Melanie Hamilton! It can’t be so.”
This exercise is from a weekend-long food writing class called “Hungry for Words.” Find out more at kathleenflinn.com “Hungry for Words on Whidbey”Food Writing Retreat Nov. 5th-7th 2010 Whidbey Island, Washington