Using the Senses in Fiction: Touch

Continuing our five part series on using sensory images, today I’m offering some words I hope will help with the sense of touch.

To touch something: brush, caress, feel, grab, grasp, pat, pinch, rub, scratch, smooth, strike, stroke, squeeze, strike, tap

To respond to touch: blush, chill, flush, itch, recoil, shiver, shudder, tingle

Warm to the touch: feverish,febrile, gummy, flushed,hot, lukewarm, sticky, warm

Cold to the touch:  chilly, cold, cool,  damp, freezing,   icy, shivering, wet

Smooth to the touch:  firm, flat, greasy, oily, satiny,  silky, slick, slippery, velvety

Rough to the touch: bristly, dry, coarse, grainy, hairy, lumpy, prickly, sandy, scratchy

Soft to the touch:  cuddly, downy, feathery, flabby, flaccid, fluffy, furry, fuzzy, powdery, spongy, squishy

Janet Fitch, author of the bestselling novel White Oleander said that when she was writing the book, she once spent three hours thinking of a fresh way to describe s scene. A way that she had never before read  in any other book. Quite a task!  It’s easy to get into a rut and use the same words over and over.

Challenge: take a couple of pages of your work in progress and highlight all the words pertaining to touch. Are they overused? Too familiar? Ordinary?   Sit down with your trusty thesaurus (you do own one, right?) and see whether you can find fresher, less familiar words to substitute for the ones you’ve highlighted. It’s true that one can go to the opposite extreme with this, and sometimes there is no substitute for the tried and true. Look for a balance between new images and the familiar and watch your writing shine.