Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Senses, Showing and Smelling by Ginger Simpson

I just finished Juliet's post on Word Building and was impressed.  I can identify with her assessment of bad sells, since I worked with International Students coming from third world countries where water is not as plentiful and bathing ranks on the bottom of their "to do" list.  I was reminded that the things we take for granted are not as readily available in other places.  Of course, I was quick to help them acclimate to a new environment where water and soap are at their disposal.  :)

I wanted to acknowledge the importance of touching the reader's senses by letting them visualize, smell, feel, taste, touch the story and your characters.  Diane Scott Lewis has been a mentor and critique partner of mine, and thanks to her continual critique notes, "what does it smell like?" I've learned to include that sense in my stories.  I'd forgotten how important smell is to identifying with the setting, more so to some than others, but a good author writes to the needs of the masses.  Readers want to smell that apple pie baking in the oven...they want to sniff the aroma of wild flowers drifting on the breeze as they bounce across the prairie in a buckboard.  If the author does a good job, the reader slips into the character's shoes and feels every jarring bump and catches a whiff of the horses' sweat. How often do you read a description of how the hero smells...like wood smoke and sweat or a spicy aftershave?  Other smells are equally as important and I've noted it's usually a sense that is most overlooked in writing.

My very first editor summed it up for me when she said..."you've told a beautiful story, now lets work on 'showing' it to the reader."  That's the secret to writing a novel.  A story doesn't really connect the reader to action in the story....tells them, rather than puts them in the moment.  If you want people to truly enjoy your work, involve their senses and give them a role.  It works every time.