Touch is the one sense we can’t survive without, so it’s an important sense to include in your family history stories. The one unique element of touch is that for touch to occur you must be intimate, close to the person, place or thing. The sense of touch can be used in our family history stories to help draw our reader into our scenes. Use the sense of touch to describe physical sensations that our reader will recognize from their own experiences.
When conveying the sense of touch in your stories, think about the elements of temperature, texture, pressure and intent and mood.
- the burning sand between your toes
- a hot pot
- a cold handshake
- cold feet in bed
- the warmth of a blanket
- warm blood trickling from a wound
- the hot and sweaty forehead of a fevered child
- the softness of rose petals
- the warm feel of a velvet dress
- the roughness of your peasant ancestor’s hands, or the softness of your grandmother’s hands
- the soft moistness of a romantic kiss
The amount of pressure used in touch can tell us a lot about the gesture of a touch. One can grab your arm, and it can be felt as a threat if the pressure is great. Or the touch of the arm might be a gentle romantic gesture.
It is important to understand the purpose of the touch you’re describing in your story. Choose the right type of contact for the situation. The squeeze of a throat would evoke a threat whereby the squeeze of a cheek may evoke humour or friendliness.
Touch can also convey a mood, an ancestor who steps out into the rain after a long drought is going to feel different than an ancestor who is lost in a rainstorm in the woods.
When using the sense of touch in your family history story consider the above elements to make your description specific and unique.