Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Employ the five senses to provide new and unique images.

Employ the five senses to provide new and unique images. The sense of sight is overused, it’s easy to tell what the character is seeing, not so easy to tell what something feels, sounds or tastes like.

Try things like: The air tasted like pennies, tart and coppery. The monkey’s fur touched her cheek, bringing memories of Grandfather’s workshop, and the wads of used sandpaper on the floor. The air bit into her sinuses just like the Vicks Vapo Rub Mother used to glob on her chest.

How about this: Go outdoors. Stand barefoot in the grass, or on your fire escape. Close your eyes and let your senses take over. What do you hear: the rustle of daisies in the breeze? A couple arguing down on the sidewalk? What do you smell: your neighbor’s woodstove? Gasoline fumes? Breathe through your mouth. What does the air taste like: mildewy leaves? Tangy like acid rain? Is the grass damp with dew? Does the fire escape remind you of a bridge from which you’re about to fall?

Go indoors now—wait, open your eyes first.

Now, close them again and do the same as a moment ago. What do you smell: the baby’s dirty diaper in the trashcan? Do you hear the kids’ footsteps upstairs? Can you tell which kid is which by the way they run? Did you get goosebumps realizing you’d forgotten a pot on the stove?

Challenge your creativity. Everyone knows how a bakery smells, but what does it sound like?

Everyone has an idea of what war sounds like, but what does the air taste like?
Take everyday things like the rumble of your neighbor’s car on a cold morning. What visual image does it conjure from your childhood: the time you went shopping with your mother and threw up on her best coat?

Your favorite bathrobe is soft on your face, but what flavorful memory does it evoke—when you and your husband went to that B&B for your fifth anniversary and had apple pancakes for breakfast?

These are the sorts of images you should present to your readers; things they can sink their senses into; things that stimulate their memories and images. 

Cindy Davis
just released On the Hook
first in the Smith & Westen series


Anonymous said...

this is something I struggle with - thank you for your suggestions. Too often I get caught up in the plot and want to rush to the conclusion1

Anne Duguid Knol said...

Cindy, I've bookmarked this one as it's something too few authors,including me :-),manage to do.
The examples and images are most helpful and I shall be practicing from now on.