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Monday, July 12, 2010

Writing Tips for the Practical-Minded #18: You have five senses for a reason

I'm blogging today over at The LadyKillers, and the topic there is food.  But my topic here is writing tips. can I marry those two disparate topics?

I chose to do my LadyKillers blog entry about chocolate, which will be no surprise to anyone who has seen the stash of Hershey bars in my freezer.  I've given Faye very few of my own traits, but she shares my love of chocolate, in general, and Hershey bars, in particular.  I've given Joe a notable knack in the kitchen and around the campfire.  The man's an exceedingly fine cook, so I write occasional scenes that occur at the dining table.  I try to refrain from describing every bite that goes in their mouths, because that would be boring, but I do like to use those scenes to engage my readers' sense of taste.  At other times, I try to appeal to their noses.  And at yet other times, I want them to hear and feel what my characters hear and feel.

It is very easy to fall into the trap of describing how a scene looks, then moving on.  When I'm editing, I try to ask myself periodically, "When is the last time a viewpoint character has done anything besides look at the world?"

Let your readers feel the sand under their feet.  Let them hear the sound a shovel makes as it shushes through that sand and makes the dead clink of bone-on-metal.  Let them smell the rain as it approaches.  And when your character unwrappes a slab of chocolate, let your readers experience that first blast of nothing but sweetness, before the chocolate melts on their tongues, only to leave that faint gritty texture of cocoa behind.

And if you want to know what else I have to say about chocolate, check it out at The LadyKillers here.


  1. You have just blown my diet! No comment as I'm off to get a Hershey Bar.

    Giggles and Guns

  2. Have I mentioned here that I bought stock in Hershey for my IRA? And now I've sent the entire readership of "It's Like Making Sausage..." to go buy some Hershey bars! Sweet!

    I think I need to buy some sausage stock.