I have a dear friend in one of my critique groups that just finished a novel for us to read. She’s from South Africa and has written a story about her homeland. It was breathtaking to travel down the coast with her protagonist and see the beautiful vegetation growing along the sea shore. I loved looking out into the ocean through her eyes – to see whales chasing a pod of dolphins or watch the waves crashing against the rocks. There was a great lighthouse near a precipice where a wonderful couple dug clams and made delicious chowder with corn bread.
So I say to myself, I live in a boring place. I don’t have anything like that to describe in my book. I haven’t been to any fancy far-away places. But as I look around me at the frosted snow-capped mountains, the drama of the kaleidoscopic sunsets, the delicate lacy snow-falls of winter, I know my world is breath-taking if I will just look. I can hear the sounds of frozen snow crunching under my feet, the dripping of crystal icicles, and the wind whistling through the pines. My fingers feel numb against the cold; my nose turns red and drips. The taste of hot chocolate lingers on my tongue and the smell of bread in the over warms me through & through.
Well, you get the idea. I just have to stop, look, feel, taste and smell the wonderful world around me. If I put myself into the scene, I will take my readers with me. I can do that if I just let myself experience the scene I want to read about.
What kind of memory jogger do you use to remind yourself to add sensory experiences? What kind of sensory experiences do you like to add? Give us an example one of the great sensory passages you have written.
Let’s all have a great getting-in-touch with our surroundings week.