Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Sense and Sensibility - the Tuesday Challenge

Here we have three words - Sense, sensible and sensibility. I've put in the Oxford Dictionary meanings for the three for your perusal. In all honesty I haven't included everything - for instance there is a scientific meaning of sense that isn't helpful. 

Sense : noun:1 a faculty by which the body perceives an external stimulus; one of the faculties of sight, smell, hearing, taste, and touch:the bear has a keen sense of smell which enables it to hunt at dusk2 a feeling that something is the case:she had the sense of being a political outsider3 [mass nouna sane and realistic attitude to situations and problems:he earned respect by the good sense he showed at meetings4 a way in which an expression or a situation can be interpreted; a meaning:it is not clear which sense of the word ‘characters’ is intended in this passageverb1 perceive by a sense or senses:with the first frost, they could sense a change in the daysbe aware of (something) without being able to define exactly how one knows:she could sense her father’s anger risinghe could sense that he wasn’t likedSENSIBLE - adjective
1 done or chosen in accordance with wisdom or prudence; likely to be of benefit:I cannot believe that it is sensible to spend so much2 (of an object) practical and functional rather than decorative:Mum always made me have sensible shoes
late Middle English (also in the sense ‘perceptible by the senses’): from Old French, or from Latin sensibilis, from sensus  (see sense)        
Sensibilities :noun 
    [mass noun]
1 the quality of being able to appreciate and respond to complex emotional or aesthetic influences; sensitivity:the study of literature leads to a growth of intelligence and sensibility(sensibilitiesa quality of delicate sensitivity that makes one liable to be offended or shocked:the scale of the poverty revealed by the survey shocked people’s sensibilities

I bring these dictionary meanings in for two reasons. The first is because I love to go a-hunting in the dictionary - checking out the original meanings of words - especially common words that we might use without thinking. The second is because I want you to have a firm grasp on the root word 'sensible' for this week's challenge. Please refer to the origin of the word - which I've placed in a peachy colour intended on having you remember with Proustian delight - the feel of peach fuzz to the fingertips, the faint perfumed scent arising from the peach, the delight of that scent morphing into sweetness on the tongue and the barely perceptible sound as the peach morsel is swallowed.

Today's challenge is to take a piece of your writing in which you are having difficulty. Ignore the difficulty - you may be having a structural problem or a character who won't behave - and apply your sensibility to the scene. Go WAY overboard. Just load it up with as many sensory details as you can. Be insane with it. Don't worry - this is play and you cannot fall off the world. When you're finished you can reign it in. But for now - explode those sensory details. Revel in it. Trust me.
Here is a piece of cheese-cake for my sister, Jude! It is her birthday today and for the next month we are twins. Yay! Hope you have a swell day my deary-deary-deario!


Tricia J. O'Brien said...

I love to look words up, too. If I even doubt a meaning, I look. Most times I'm right but when I'm off in my usage I'm really glad I checked.
Lovely challenge.

Jude said...

Thanks for the cake, twin. It was delicious! Hope your day was swell, too.

Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

Great challenge, Jan! I don't think of myself as a sensory writer as much, so this will be something good for me to try!

Elspeth Antonelli said...

This is great, Jan. Thanks. I now have the urge to watch the Emma Thompson movie as well - always a good thing. Do you have it? If you do, I highly recommend listening to her commentary. It's hilarious.

Faith Pray said...

Lovely! I will try it! Thank you, as always, for the challenge.