SYWTBAW: More than a Seeming and Feeling

I discovered a habit of mine that's really started to drive me crazy. It seems like I do it a lot. I feel like I do it without even knowing it.

I'm going to call it Seeming and Feeling.

Ever write a sentence like this:

He felt the dagger slide into his flesh. It seemed like time slowed as he felt his life bleed from him.

This is a graphic, powerful scene. But when things only seem and feel like something, they cease to engage the reader in the moment, and it jars the reader's suspension of disbelief.
What if we changed the description so that things aren't just seeming or feeling a certain way, but simply are?

The dagger slid into his flesh, inch by agonizing inch. Time slowed as he watched his lifeblood pour from the gaping wound, soaking through his shirt, wetting the dusty ground.

Removing the feeling and seeming from the sentence gives the reader immediacy and closes up the distance between what the character is experiencing and what the reader is witnessing.

Of course, there are places for feelings: in similes and metaphors, they work all right.
He felt as though his hands were on fire.
She felt like her head was about to explode.
But often, it's better to find a strong way to describe a strong experience.
Your homework:
Can you think of a way to rewrite the above sentences to make them stand out without seeming or feeling? (You can make up any situation you like around these sentences.)

5 thoughts on “SYWTBAW: More than a Seeming and Feeling

  1. Victoria Dixon

    Loved this! Here's my attempt at the dagger scene:

    The dagger slashed across his belly. He gasped and made it worse. Had the blade reached his lung? It hurt to breathe. Mr. Killer's silver weapon taunted, feinting another strike. Victim raised shaking fingers from where they clutched his side. Black, slick blood coated them.

    Okay. I REALLY need to write something other than war scenes. LOL

  2. Victory Essex

    Nice work, Victoria! I especially like the name of your antagonist: Mr. Killer. 8 )

    You've got a dark and twisted mind. Something tells me you've writtent his darkly before. I like it!

  3. RTK_21

    I know that this is a year overdue, but I was going through your website and decided to give this a shot.

    Her mind was throbbing with anxiety, thick blades of pain pierced her mind, bleeding thoughts of pain. She felt her body hit the ground, screaming for the pain to stop, begging for relief, calling on to someone, anyone, to rescue her.

    Wow, that's some angsty stuff... didn't know I had it in me... anyway, let me know what you think!!

    1. Vicki

      Post author

      This is good, but you used the word pain three times. If you can find a synonym, or better yet show pain through action, you can avoid repetition.

      Also, "she felt her body hit the ground"--how about simply "she hit the ground"?

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