Friday, October 22, 2010

Can You See It? Really?

As writers, we know to make use of our senses, but most of the stories I see, could use a lot more touching, hearing, seeing, smelling, and tasting.

We never go through a day without these vital sense organs reacting to the outside world. When Christopher was little, he grabbed the pretty red HEATING ELEMENT in the oven. I felt HIS pain, because I could SEE his pain. He cried of course, but there were other ways he showed the agony. And when I looked at his hand, I saw the skin had melted away.

We need to do more than show a gurgling stream to our readers. Our readers want to be in the book. Sitting by the stream, smelling the fish, and listening to the wind howl. They want to be able to see the night sky and feel the passionate kiss. I write picture books and middle grade, but thought I'd throw the kiss in for those of you that write the GOOD stuff. :)

So if you are having trouble putting it into words, go and do it. Yes, I really did eat acorns when I wrote SEVENTY-TWO HOURS. And they're quite tasty. By the time I wrote revision 91, :) I was able to write that scene so well, the reader can actually taste the acorn.

Remember, the reader wants to be IN the story with your characters. No matter what is going on. That's why books can take us from another country to ACROSS THE UNIVERSE. 

Short post, but I have the CRUD. I've been in bed for two days. Anyone else have anything to add? Can you see it? Really? Have a lovely weekend. Thanks for popping over.

25 comments:

  1. Oh my dear, I felt Christopher's pain just reading that post!

    I'm learning how to put sense into my writing. Wait, that didn't come out right. I'm learning how to describe senses well, so my readers get it. There.

    Hope your health improves!

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  2. Hey Jen. I am realizing how my writing comes alive when I can really show what the characters are seeing and hearing. :)

    Thanks for the get well wish, it is just a case of the flu or something like it. :) But the bed is my best pal right now.

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  3. Good post.

    The ability to place a reader in a story is what every author wants. Developing a kinship with the place and the characters keep the reader turning pages.

    For most of us I believe it is a cultivated creative art.

    Reading is pure pleasure for me. A well written life story expands my knowledge of human nature. A well written mystery is a puzzle of words dangled in front of the reader who likes the elements of intrigue and surprise. Fiction has many faces allowing the reader to eavesdrop on someone else's life without discovery. For me, well written history reads like a good novel, of specific place; time; and people.

    When reading I want to know as much as possible about what is going on, said with as few words as possible. I want to know: who; what; when; where; and why. I do, as you say, want to see it, feel it, smell it and touch it.

    Having said all this I realize there is much work for me to do.

    And dear one, feel betters are on the way. Flaming through the cosmos via prayer....

    Sending much love & hugs, magnolia

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  4. Smell is especially important, because it triggers memories for the reader. I agree, we need to go beyond what we see and get into those other senses more for a richer reading experience. :)

    Angela @ The Bookshelf Muse

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  5. All good authors know that the only way to engage the readers is to put them in the book, to make them relate to the characters and see everything as clear as day using their 'Mind's eye'. You just did all of that perfectly when you described Christopher's mishap. That's one of the reasons the books are always better than the movies.

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  6. Engaging all the senses is so crucial. And I love that you were snacking on acorns to be able to describe the flavor!

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  7. Sandi, you said everything I wanted to say. YOU ARE DEFINITELY A WRITER. :) And we all have much work to do.

    Thanks for the prayer. I need them. Trying to get out of bed. But it has this magnetic pull on me right now.

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  8. Angela, you are right. And there is NO better place to learn to engage our senses than your house. Which is part two on Monday. :)

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  9. Wenstumped, the books ARE always better than the movies. And I'll NEVER forget the day Christopher did that. It still is so vivid in my mind.

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  10. Laurel, the acorns are sweet and nutty. I had fun eating them. They are a hard nut to crack though. :) Engaging ALL the senses. That should be another writer mantra.

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  11. I got a superawesome box in the mail! Thank you!!!

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  12. Sensory details are a weak spot for me, but I consciously work on it. Hope you feel better!

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  13. Oooh, thanks for tossing in the kissing part :D Yeah, senses are a hard thing for me. I am going to use this post as a reminder--ADD SENSORY DETAIL TO EACH PAGE. Maybe if I write that at the top of each page of my WIP, I won't forget. I hope you feel better soon. I took a nap this afternoon to help get rid of my cold crud stuff--it kind of helped.

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  14. Love the new blog layout - and loved the SUPER sweet comment you left on my blog today. You ROCK sister! Prayers for you and Christopher!

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  15. Feel better.

    I agree, revisions are when I keep adding detail until the picture I see in my head, smell in my nose, hear in my ears, feel with my skin, and taste in my mouth is all there for the readers to experience as well. Or at least I try.

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  16. I totally agree with you! I love to experience things so I can write about them. I'm always jotting things down...I do have to say that taste is the hardest sense to add into a story, for me.

    I hope you feel better soon...

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  17. This is a good reminder. I find myself sometimes skipping details like this, good thing I got you around to keep me in line! =D

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  18. This is such a good post, Robyn. I agree wholeheartedly. Whenever i read a story or a novel, if i don't get all the senses i feel something is definately missing. I often find that a lot of authors miss out smell as a sense in their writings. That's one i always make sure i include!

    And yes, agree with first comment. I felt Christopher's pain just reading this! OUCH!

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  19. Robyn, I could feel Christopher's pain and see you in bed sick. Hugs to both of you.

    A lovely reminder to involve all our senses while writing so that the readers are literally transported to the site and can immerse themselves into the scene.

    My wishes for your speedy recovery.

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  20. Great post, Robyn! I hope you feel better soon.
    I, too, have eaten acorns, or rather acorn bread, but I collected the acorns myself, leached the acid out of them, ground them up and did some baking. This was a long time ago, thanks for reminding me of that experience!

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  21. Great advice, Robyn. We do need to get away from the keyboard and try things. But some stuff my characters do? No way I'm doing them. Just saying. ;)
    Please rest a lot and get better soon.

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  22. Robyn, you are really a dedicated author and artist! I think it's terrific how you totally try to experience along with the characters. You're giving me great advice for me to delve deeper into my senses in order to get richer poetry. Thanks so much dear friend :) Sending hugs to you and Christopher too!!!

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  23. The experience of the reader feeling that they are part of the story is what makes the story great! Well written! I need to get back to my books and look forward to reading more of your posts. Now following and thank you for stopping by:-)

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  24. the crud? drat! that sucks. hope you feel better soon. And, did you really eat an acorn? that's dedication!

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