Saturday, April 2, 2011

Touch Secrets of Bestselling Writers

Bestselling Authors and Touch

What if you uncovered how bestselling authors view touch differently, approach touch differently, and apply touch differently than unpublished and even mid-list authors? What if you could pull back the veil on this set of powerful sensory secrets?

Now you can.

How Bestselling Authors View Touch

Bestselling authors view touch as a visceral portal to a reader's imagination, a kaleidoscope of kinesthetic opportunities to reveal character traits, relationships and changes in the story.

How Bestselling Authors Approach Touch

Bestselling authors not only view touch differently, they approach the sense of touch differently in the story. To a bestselling writer, touch offers a playground of opportunities. Touch is a versatile sense that can be engaged in a variety of ways in stories. Touch is a powerful scene builder and story changer. Bestselling authors know this and, therefore, approach touch with thought and care and much deliberation.

How Bestselling Authors Apply Touch

Here we get to the meat of the article, where theoretical understandings of touch meet the written page. Bestselling authors apply touch in a plethora of ways in the story to accomplish multiple story goals.

Touch reveals character traits.
Bestselling authors use touch to reveal information about a character. Instead of simply telling the readers that "Joe loves his son" we see Joe hugging his son and teaching his son how to hit a baseball. We learn about the father, Joe, through the way he physicaly touches his son. In another story, we may learn that a character is aggressive and abusive when he or she threatens, grabs, pulls, or slaps another character. Touch helps us "show not tell" who characters are in the story.

How does the main character in your current story touch others? What does that reveal about him or her? Somewhere in your story, find a place where you reveal a character trait through touch.

Touch distinguishes characters. The way someone touches others can distinguish one character from another. For example, one character may be very "touchy feely" and always be touching others. Another character may be standoffish and hardly touch anyone at all.

How do different characters in your story touch others? Do they all touch people the same? How can you make the differences even more clear?

Touch reveals character relationships. By watching how couples touch (or don't touch) we learn how close or distant they feel to each other. Think about it. Characters who hold hands, hug and kiss each other affectionately probably have a close, meaningful relationship. Couples that don't look at each other, who stand far apart, and who don't touch probably are in serious trouble.

How do the characters touch each other in your story? What does that say about them? How can you more clearly reveal relationships through touch? Try to come up with five times in your story where touch speaks to character relationships.

Touch reveals relationship changes.
As people grow closer emotionally, they tend to also grow closer physically. They touch more frequently and more lovingly. Bestselling authors often show relationships changing by how touch changes over the course of the story.

How does touch change in your story? Does the way two people in love change in your story? (grow closer or farther apart)

Touch reveals character change.
Bestselling authors also apply touch to show a character arc in full swing, such as when a cold-blooded killer first slashes his way through a upper-class neighborhood, then eventually hesitates before he kills, and finally leaves a survivor.

How can you use touch to show how a character changes in your story? Try to insert three (or more) paragraphs or entire scenes in your story where the way your characters touch others communicates internal personality change.

Extra Tips on Touch

1. The way a character touches any object (i.e., washes a car, punches the wall) broadcasts internal feelings about the object, or emotions in general
2. Characters can move from positive to negative or from negative to positive touch
3. Characters may touch differently in differently situations (i.e., at the gym, at home, at the office, etc).
4. Figure out what your character would never touch and then force him or her to touch it in the story.

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