Writing and the Sense of Sight

I'm re-reading A Natural History of the Senses by Diane Ackerman. This book on the Senses is a beautifully written volume that's kind of a mixture of philosophy and physiology. For writers, it explores sensory sensations and can help one write better description.

I love writing dialogue, but I have to work hard at writing description in order to set the scene and create a sense of recognition for the writer. As a writer, I strive to improve where I'm weak and capitalize on my strengths.

Because our sense of sight is responsible for 90-95% of all or our sensory perception, the sensory details that involve what a character sees usually predominate in books. The sky isn’t just blue; it’s cerulean. The ocean isn’t dark and stormy; it’s glacial blue broken by whitecaps.

Fascinating Facts About Eyes

1. Human eyes can perceive more than a million simultaneous visual impressions.

2. Human eyes can discriminate among nearly 8 million gradations of color.

3. Human eyes are so sensitive that on a clear night when there is no moon, a person sitting on a sensitive peak can see a match struck 50 miles away.

4. Human eyes take about an hour to completely adapt to seeing in the dark.

5. When you see something pleasing, your pupil can dilate as much as 45%.

6. Blue eyes are most sensitive to light with dark brown the least sensitive.

Takeaway Truth

When writing description, your words need to paint a picture that will come alive in the reader's imagination.

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