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Monday, August 23, 2010

Sprinkling Sensory Details

By Jennifer Hudson Taylor

When I'm writing a story, I try to layer in sensory detail to help the reader feel what my characters are experiencing. A little sight, sound, smell, touch, and taste brings the scene alive like nothing else. 

Here is an example of a scene with some sensory detail:

           The crisp morning air accosted her lungs as if she breathed chunks of ice. The sun peaked through thick layers of clouds, melting one by one until they would eventually evaporate. A dusting of frost covered the earth’s surface, the edges glistening like tiny sparkles of diamonds on the colored leaves and blades of grass.
            She passed under the oak tree she had fallen from as a child. Two birds perched on a limb singing a romantic tune that made Regina smile. An acorn dropped a foot before her. One more step and it would have landed upon her head. She glanced up. A gray squirrel appeared to be laughing as he opened his mouth. He squeaked and scrambled out of view.

 How many sensory details did you experience from this short passage? It only takes a few sentences, but then sensory sets the tone of the whole scene and setting. The reader not only imagines what everything looks like, but he or she can feel

One issue that plagues me is the fact that I want to write about whatever weather I'm currently experiencing. I struggle writing a beach scene if I'm cold and curled up by the fire under a blanket. Deep snow is hard to imagine as I rarely get to experience more than a light dusting here in the south. 

In my current novel, I purposely set the season to the summer and now the weather will soon shift into the fall, just like here in NC. I did this for a reason. I know my inclination to sift in my own experiences. If my story takes place in a different season than I'm experiencing, without meaning to, soon my characters will be experiencing the same season as me, and I may have to rewrite some scenes before I catch myself.

Anyone else ever experience this?


Wonderful examples:) I still need to work on getting those senses in there. ANd yes, it is easier to write about summer when it is hot!

In a few weeks, I plan to go back through my entire manuscript and layer in some more sensory details.