Being There

“In your reading, find books to improve your color sense, your sense of shape and size in the world. Why not learn about the senses of smell and hearing? Your characters must sometimes use their noses and ears and they may miss half the smells and sounds of the city, and all the sounds of the wilderness still loose in the trees an the lawns of the city.

“Why all this insistence on the sense? Because in order to convince your reader that he is there, you must assault each of his senses, in turn, with color, sound, taste, and texture. If your reader feels the sun on his flesh, the wind fluttering his shirt sleeves, half your battle is won. The most improbable tales can be made believable, if your reader, through his senses, feels certain that he stands in the middle of events. He cannot refuse, then, to participate. The logic of events always gives way to the logic of the senses. Unless, of course, you do something really unforgivable to wrench the reader out of context, such as having the American Revolution on with machine guns, or introducing dinosaurs and cave men into the same scene (they lived millions of years apart).” Ray Bradbury, Zen in the Art of Writing

Zen and Ray Bradbury, sounds like bringing together dinosaurs and cave men, but Zen in the Art of Writing is one of my favorite writing handbooks. Ray’s joy and energy shine forth on every page. I love what he says here about bringing more sensory details into our writing to immerse the reader in the worlds we create. Here are a few more tips on this:

Our language is very visually focused, so this sense tends to dominate in our stories – mix it up!

Smell is the sense most connected to memory. Smell and taste create a complex mix that’s rich and yeasty.

Attention to detail and deep observation help plunge a reader instantly into your world.

Start with the “bones” of your story, then add the “meat” through sensory descriptions.

Great advice for adding some spice to our words as we all write on!


About karinwritesdangerously

I am a writer and this is a motivational blog designed to help both writers and aspiring writers to push to the next level. Key themes are peak performance, passion, overcoming writing roadblocks, juicing up your creativity, and the joys of writing.
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