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Sunday, June 2, 2013

Sunday Sundries--Which Sense Is Primary?

I used to run a bookstore. A long time ago, granted, but for almost ten years, every month, I would spend time clearing out over stocked and old titles that hadn't sold. Mass market paperbacks are returned by tearing off the cover and sending it back to the publisher. The trade paperbacks and hardcovers were returned whole copy, of course.
But, as the mass markets originated during World War II to send overseas to soldiers, they were printed on cheaper paper.

They weren't meant to be returned for credit whole copy. Because I was manager and on salary, I got to finish pulling and "stripping" these paperbacks, keeping track of the number of each covers I was sending back and disposing of the books.

Except, some didn't get disposed of properly. I'll admit it. we were supposed to tear out the first bunch of pages and put the stripped books in the trash compactor. Excuse me, but at 3 a.m., it sometimes didn't get done. Also, there were books that I wanted to read, damn it.

So, that is how I ended up spending a summer reading through three grocery bags of stripped Regency romances. Many of the big name authors started out writing for the different series. Signet/New American Library put out four to six a month and there were several other lines too.

One Regency author I got to meet at an early Romance Writers of America event was Alicia Rasley. She was a professor at IUPUI and now has a website:  It's Alicia Rasley's Writer's Corner, where she offers her expert advice on various aspects of the life of a professional writer.

One thing I remember her talking about in one of her articles was that your character will always have just one primary sense, just like real people. This will help you in your writing, because you can use sensory phrases to describe point of view unique to each character.

I am visual. While I love music, I spent most of my life reading or doing counted cross-stitch or other craft projects that involve color and texture. My husband, on the other hand, can recognize a soundtrack composer from only a few bars of music.

Think about how important that could be in defining your characters. Go ahead. I'll wait for a few minutes. Welcome back.

My hero Will is a sight hound, a medically retired Marine sharpshooter. Even when he's not near the woman he's fallen in love with, he's fantasizing about her in a gold bikini or nothing at all. Later in the series, as motivation, Elizabeth offers to do a Bikini Car Wash if he finishes all of his physical therapy exercises.
This one is by Mileti and is $65.

Elizabeth used to be a DJ and recognizes the song from before she was born on this album:

We were thrilled to see Rush inducted into The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame this year. About time.

My other hero, Rob, who is Will's brother, focuses on the sense of touch. I've given his character my occasional Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder, where he ends up washing his hands so much they are rough. Rob has several worry stones and has one in his pocket almost all the time. It was warm with friction when he was getting off the airplane to see his brother for the first time in over a year. I recently went to a rock and mineral show and here is one of the displays:
He has an onyx one and a tiger eye one that are his favorites.

Finally, his love, Elizabeth's sister Mary Margaret, loves scents. She wonders if the woman from the jewelry store bathed in her perfume, it was so overwhelming. She spills a little of the shampoo in Rob's bathroom when she checks it out. She notices Will smells like sandalwood and bets Elizabeth does too. She loves the smell of cinnamon and they have a huge tray of cinnamon rolls at their wedding, rather than a cake. I thought these were a pretty idea:

So, which sense do you favor? More importantly, which one does your character favor and how are you going to get that in your novel?