I’ve heard the phrase “show don’t tell” at least a million times in my writing career. And, mostly, that’s good advice—though there are times when “telling” is more economical and gets the job done.
But in most scenes, and especially when I want to draw my reader into deep point of view, I try to show as much as possible. I draw on the senses instead of my character’s intellect.
In other words, I want my readers to experience the event with my character instead of my character filtering the experience for them.
Below are a few “before” and “after” sentences from my current manuscript: Read more
Sensory images are glue that grabs readers and draws them into your story world.
If you want to improve your ability to write sensuously, become more conscious of senses by creating a sensory journal. Supercharge your attention on what’s going on around you as you go through your days, and you’ll likely become more aware. To boost that experience, commit to focus on a specific sense. Start today by creating a scent diary.
As you leave your house for work, take children to school, or do errands, notice how the air smells when you walk out the door. Does it smell like rain? The paper mill across the river? Pine trees? I still remember the smell of chocolate when I walked out of my hotel on a trip to Chicago. I found out that it emanated from the Blommer chocolate factory. Read more
Using images in a scene can be a good way to center an event or ground the reader in the here and now of the story. Writing images is all about going beyond the cliché and using sensory details.
One of my favorite ways to create an image is to take a simple sentence or idea and expand on it, calling in our different senses.
In my work-in-progress I want to convey at the beginning of a flashback scene that it was a hot August day. I could just state, “It was a hot August day.” This is simple and direct but, because I want to expand on the mood of the scene, I rewrote this simple sentence and fleshed it out—using some sense impressions and an image.
Rewritten example: Read more