Look and Listen versus See and Hear

There are many ways of ‘seeing’ something. The word ‘see’ is used loosely and often as in ‘realise.’  ‘Oh I see that now.’  The theory is that we are orientated visually or aurally or tactilely but I have reservations that any one sense is so dominant in all individuals. Isn’t it just a habit – a cliché manner of expressing ourselves when we use ‘see’ in such a way? I don’t agree that it means that person belongs to a visually dominated type.

According to this theory an aurally dominated person will say, ‘I hear what you say’ but to me that’s an Americanism. I avoid using that expression although I’m very drawn to sounds and music of all sorts.

And of course the tactile dominated person is meant to say things like, ‘I feel that’s right.’  I have used that expression sometimes but I use ‘see’ just as much. What about you?

When it comes to writing though, looking and listening take dominance. It’s not just a matter of seeing what’s around you. If you want to draw your reader into a scene you really have to be able to ‘look’ at it to enable the reader to ‘see’ it. There are shades of vision here that apply to all the other ways of grabbing your reader. It’s not enough when it comes to the tactile element to say ‘he or she felt’ for example. Again just as in Look versus See the writer needs to draw the reader in by describing what the character feels and allowing the reader to understand what sort of feeling that is e.g.’ her heart faltered and then beat a   rapid tattoo. Her vision darkened as if her world  closed in about her like the walls of a prison.’  The reader deduces by their own understanding of these visceral symptoms that, ‘she felt very scared.’

The same goes for Listen versus Hear. Description is a necessity not a luxury.  In effect the writer has to Look’ to enable the reader to See‘; Listen to enable the reader to Hear and Experience to allow the reader to Feel.

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