Seeing Vs Feeling Description Writing
Most people I’ve communicated with, I say communicated because I haven’t necessarily seen them in person or talked with them on the phone for that matter (most of the world is interweb connected these days), would say that as they write they see the story in their mind’s eye like a movie screen.
I admit that the movie screen scenario is something I do myself.
You may be wondering why is that relevant? Or that I make it sound like it’s a bad thing. Well I’m not saying it’s a bad thing, on the contrary, movie screen mode really helps a writer visualize and work through a story.
BUT, oh I knew that you knew there would be a but in here, writing only in movie screen mode limits the descriptive power of most things which gives the reader an opportunity to glaze (skim) over the vegetables to get back into the meat of the action.
That is the case because movie is mostly visual based, seeing images flashing before your eyes.
The eyes are only one particular sense that we have as humans to remember and be a part of a story.
To be honest the eyes and visual senses are so commonly used as a descriptor that even I can wash over potentially important information in a book or story if that is the main source of information about my surroundings.
What catches our hearts are the less knowingly used senses that evoke powerful memories and feelings much more so than seeing alone.
When you smell fresh linens basking in the lavender winds…
The sound of crunching twigs beneath your feet and crisp Fall leaves…
Tactile feelings –
Horripilation surfacing on the back of your neck at the prospect of being watched.
Those lips tasted like fresh peaches moist, sweet, and I was the one harvesting them.
Touching things, smelling things, hearing things, tasting things are a whole lot more powerful than most anything you can write about using just sight.
Enhance your descriptions by combining the senses. Make it that much more difficult for a reader to even think about skimming your hard earned words.
Choose but choose wisely
‘What senses am I using here?”,
“Is it soley visual?” ,
“What other senses can be used to enhance the image?”
Take a moment to look at the following picture and describe it…
don’t just use your visual senses.
Does it remind you of a smell,
How do you think things feel,
Can you touch things,
Can you hear things?
I was hiding in forest the pine needles prickling at my bare arms. I ducked low after hearing the wind whistle off the lake. The sun was coming up beyond the horizon in vivid blue and yellow hues and the scent of blooming flowers but that wasn’t what I was focused on. Plunging into the chilled water the rocks hard and slippery beneath my feet I traversed closer towards the house where they kept the only thing that mattered to me, my Gabriel. I took one last breath the taste of ash still fresh on my tongue before diving under. My house was the last one they would ever get a chance to burn.