Using The Five Senses: Touch

Hey, SE Readers. Joan with you on this Monday morning in April.

Before we get started, I would like to thank Victoria Ziglar for clearing up the myth of one sense becoming heightened if a person loses another (as I mentioned in my previous post). As someone with personal experience, she pointed out that her hearing wasn’t any better than it was when she lost her sight, but she is better at paying attention to it. Such is the case for most people who lose one of their senses.

This is the fifth in a series on using the five senses in writing. In case you missed the others, here are the links:

Today’s topic is the sense of touch. We are always touching something. My fingers are on the keyboard as I type this. Clothes are touching my body. My glasses are perched on my nose. (Oh, for the days when I didn’t need them to see the screen.) On occasion, my cat nudges me with his head.

Touch is the one sense that I most often take for granted in writing. But in reality, if done correctly, touch can bring the reader closest to the character because it’s personal. Dozens or hundreds of people can hear the same sounds or see the same scenery. But the sensation of touch is usually experienced only by one person at a time.

Touch is not only tactile, it’s also sensory.

  • A cold wind
  • Hot sun beating down
  • Pain experienced because of an injury
  • The pleasure brought from a lover’s touch

It’s important to remember touch doesn’t necessarily involve physical contact between humans or, for that matter, a human touching a physical object. Consider this passage from James Dashner’s The Maze Runner.

“Metal ground against metal; a lurching shudder shook the floor beneath him. He fell down at the sudden movement and shuffled backward on his hands and feet, drops of sweat beading on his forehead despite the cool air.”

While touch is immediate, it is also a slow sense. The use of touch is effective in scenes involving serene settings. It can also bring about a calming sensation in high action scenes such as a sporting event or a street fight.

With this post, we’ve covered the five senses. But it’s not the end of the series. There is another sense. Curious? Check back later in the month.

How do you use the sense of touch in writing? Please share in the comments.

36 thoughts on “Using The Five Senses: Touch

  1. Pingback: Throwing SHADE at Your Sentences | Story Empire

  2. I loved the first two Maze Runner books! I, too, am loving this series. Touch is vitally important in our lives, and we often forget to bring that sensation to our stories. I’m glad you are making us think about how we can incorporate this sensation in our books. 🙂


  3. This was a great series that gave me a lot to think about. You are so tight about how much we use touch and what it can bring into a story. Thanks, Joan.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. This has been a wonderful series, Joan, and I can’t wait to find out the secret. 🙂 I think of touch more in romance stories, but it can be used in any type of story. Nothing says “death” louder than a cold-to-the-touch body. And beads of sweat dripping from a face, a slimy substance in a dark cellar or the slick surface of a hot-off-the-press book cover definitely use the sense of touch. Thank you for sharing and for your examples!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’ve used touch more extensively in my romantic novels than in my other writing, but I try to fit it in where I can and where it makes sense. I probably overlook this sense more than any other. Your post is a reminder that I need to pay more attention to it when I write.
    This has been an excellent series, Joan!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Reblogged this on The Write Stuff and commented:

    Stop by Story Empire today to check out Joan Hall’s ongoing series on the Five Senses. This post deals with the 5th one, the sense of Touch, though Joan says she has another sense to share with us when she’s back again. Until then, her post is a really solid reminder of how we can use touch in our writing, something many of us overlook. I’m sure you’ll enjoy taking a look, and will want to share far and wide so others can stop by, too. Thanks, and thanks to Joan for another super post! 🙂 ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  7. My romance scenes aren’t erotic, but they definitely do feature touching, gentle caresses, kissing, and the like. But I do think I reference touch in other ways, too, though I haven’t been making a conscious effort to do so. I’ll be thinking about it very differently now, to be sure it’s included in the mix. This has been a great series so far, Joan, and I’m looking forward to what you have in mind for next time! I’ve loved every post! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I used touch a lot in my romances but not too much in my family drama. Used it again (though in a different way) in my sci-fi series. Talk about two genres that don’t often get discussed at the same time. Just as sight is overused, I think touch is underused and can be quite effective if done correctly. But that’s kind of a useless statement, as the same is true for every technique. (Can you tell it’s Monday morning?)

    Your Maze Runner example did make me think… we do feel things everyday that we totally ignore, like the ground beneath our feet.This is something I’m going to try to keep in mind as I write; focusing on something we typically take for granted might just be an interesting way to bring attention to a detail that otherwise gets overlooked or poorly explained.

    Loved this series, Joan. Looking forward to the next (surprise) sense.

    Liked by 3 people

    • I can certainly see using touch in romance novels, but it can be effectively used in every genre. That example with The Maze Runner really made me think. I know I’m going to be more aware of using this sense going forward.

      Liked by 2 people

  9. I use the sensations more than other methods of touch. It’s right there with taste near the end of the to-do list. I think I take it for granted since it’s fairly unavoidable. With skin being the sensory organ, it kind of slips in there no matter what.

    Liked by 2 people

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