1. Chaos Inc.

    Chaos Inc. Active Member

    May 27, 2014
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    Explaining the intangible.

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Chaos Inc., Jul 6, 2014.

    Is it generally accepted to accept a writers explanation of a character going though something that's unique to them? If I try to explain the sensation resulting in a sneeze as "a legion of tiny spears piercing my sinuses" and the typical reader doesn't, am I better off using a simple "tickle sensation?"

    I'm currently trying to describe non-existence or sensory deprivation. My perception of not having any feeling or just being a brain (no arms, legs, nerves) is highly subjective. I've done research on phantom limb syndrome and there's often residual perception of still having body parts that aren't there.

    I may be over thinking this part but is it better to try and explain something like this or just use generalities so that the reader fills in their own explanation?
  2. daemon

    daemon Contributor Contributor

    Jun 16, 2014
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    I err on the side of generalities. Words describing a sensation have diminishing marginal return. Physical sensations are one of those categories of things that language is especially ill-suited for conveying. I would rather underdo it than overdo it.

    That is, unless the character is specifically trying to document the sensation, like a research test subject or someone experimenting with drugs.
  3. cazann34

    cazann34 Active Member

    Sep 18, 2012
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    Scotland, UK
    I don't think you are over thinking this. You need to get a sensation across to the reader and you will have to articulate it. The problem with allowing the reader to fill their own explanation, they inevitably will get it wrong.
    Sensory deprivation, in my opinion is best describe, or at least I would describe it, as being locked in a room without light (Doh! I hear you say) sound or even a breeze. A complete void. You could have your MC mentally bouncing off the walls. Have them go through all the motions of panic: shouting, searching for an escape route, pacing (in their mind of course, they have no limbs) have them search for the walls but not find them. There will have to be a lot of inner dialogue. They will be confused and they will be asking questiona, and gradually they will have a inkling that there's something wrong but it will take them some time to figure it out.

    Think of it as a dream.Consider that blind people do dream in colour and amputees will dream of running. Their brain's believe they are still or want to believe they are still 'whole' So description the MC's brain still believing it has a vessel to carry it, a body.

    I hope this is of some help.
  4. thirdwind

    thirdwind Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

    Jul 17, 2008
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    All writers draw from experience, so if you think that's an accurate description based on your experience (and research), go for it. Besides, the descriptions I tend to remember are the ones that are the most unique.

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