Researching To Include The Five Senses • Lynne Garner

I know the skills of researching have been discussed on Authors Electric before, for example:

Research: How much is enough? And how much do you use? written by Chris Longmuir

It's Research: But Not as we Know it written by Wendy H. Jones


You can't throw that away; it's research! written by Jane Adams

Sings or chirps by rubbing its wings together 
But in this post I wanted to share some of the research I've recently undertaken. I've carried out this research for two reasons:

Last summer I took part in a workshop that explored how to include the five senses in your writing.

Not wanting to waste what I'd learned I decided I'd attempt to include the five senses more in my latest work in progress. This current project is a set of short stories that take place on on my favourite, but fictional place Moon Meadow Farm.

For this first round of research I decided I'd focus on one sense, this being sound. Now, being January there was little hope of being able to go out into the local countryside to listen for the sounds that would be heard on Moon Meadow Farm during the warmer months. So, off I went searching on the internet to listen to UK insects.

Foxes can be heard 'gekkering'
I spent an enjoyable hour or so listening to grass hoppers singing and caterpillars munching. If you'd like to enjoy the singing of a water boatman or discover what a stag beetle larva sound like then click here

I also wanted to include the sounds of typical farmyard and wildlife including badger, owl, sheep etc. I  found this great link British Wildlife Recordings by The British Library.

Once I'd listened to an array of sounds I needed a way to describe them in words. Some sounds like the bark of a dog, meow of a cat, hee-haw of a donkey etc. are easier to write than others. But the sound of a fox 'gekkering' (an aggressive sound made between adults or a sound made during play by young foxes) isn't that easy to convey as words. So off I went to look for ways to portray sounds in words and found  this link that contains a list of animal sounds and this link that gives a lovely long list of animal noises. 

So what will I do with all this research?

I'll mix it with the other senses to hopefully bring Moon Meadow Farm and it's inhabitants to life.


Blatant plug time - Check out my latest collection of short stories (ebooks just 99p)


Umberto Tosi said…
Excellent suggestions here: The Internet offers troves of sound libraries that allow us listen attentively and describe what we wish to include in our prose more precisely, rather than relying on spotty memory, generalities or cliches. Hearing a particular bird call or other recorded natural sound also helps in integrating that sound meaningfully into narratives and characterizations. Maybe one day we'll include soundscapes in our ebooks that readers can turn on or off. With me, though, the richness of digital information tempts me to lose myself and forget to write. I have to keep hold of a tow line to get back to my desk when this happens. Thanks for your thought-provoking post.
Lynne Garner said…
Umberto - my pleasure. And I'm with you I can get totally engrossed in my research. My tow line tends to be the need to make another cup of hot chocolate.
Fran B said…
My writing group once had as its weekly task to describe a well known walk in detail, using all five senses as much as possible. It was a great exercise and threw up some excellent pieces.

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