I’ve been blogging on writing description, and so far, I’ve discussed:
- "On Writing: Editing Your Description"
- "Description: If it Doesn’t Matter, Axe It!"
- "Description: MAKE it Matter!"
As I’ve mentioned before, you want your world to haunt your reader. (I feel like some paranormal ghost hunter, but I’m serious.) To inspire true “haunting,” you need to bring your world to life.
First, keep in mind how your reader experiences your world: through the five senses:
(Ooh, look! Three S’s and two T’s! That makes it easy to remember!)
If you do your writing job right, your reader will turn off the visual words on the page and turn on his or her “inner movie.” (At this point, you’ve got your readers in your clutches and you can toy with them. He he he! *Evil smile* I love to toy with my readers’ emotions!) Once this happens, your reader begins experiencing your story through the five senses instead of words. Make those senses work for you! Use as many as you can!
During my editing process, I actually use five different colored highlighters to highlight all five senses I've written into my scene. A quick glance at the colors shows me what senses I’m missing. I take exceptions only with smells and tastes, as those aren’t always available.
To enhance the sensory experience for my reader, I then imagine myself as my main character. I put myself in his exact position, and try to let the scene come alive for me. What’s Davian feeling here? What’s he seeing? What’s he hearing?
I’ll show you an example of how this works. In Out of the Shadows, book II of the Elysian Chronicles, Davian and his soldiers escape into an old abandoned tower now populated with dragons. I wanted to create an “Aaaah” experience in my reader’s mind, kind of like when we watch Gandalf light up the big hall in the Moria. I needed to get into Davian’s head and imagine what he might be sensing. Because I thought beyond simply sight, here’s what I wrote (sensory details underlined):
The door lifted, and the wind whistledaround the opening. Inside, Davian saw a great room over fifty yards wide. Round pillars reached from the floor to the ceiling one hundred feet overhead. Three wooden, four-tiered chandeliers that held almost three hundred glow torches each hung on the ceiling, casting green light across the room. Scores of dragons crawled in the stone hallways, up the pillars, and around the ceiling, and sounds of their claws hitting the stone echoed through the tower’s halls.
Davian and the rest of his soldiers flew inside. He expected the temperature to drop the way it did when he entered a cave, but instead it felt warm. He looked around and saw fires cackling in the great hall’s ten main fireplaces.
Quite better than, “Davian entered the tower.”
Try this with your writing. Highlight the senses you’ve already incorporated. If you discover you’re missing a specific color (sense), fill it in.
Use caution or you’ll over-stimulate your readers. Tomorrow, I’ll discuss how to complete the balancing act in Making Description Blend.
Be sure to check out my new To Elysia and Back Again podcast every Tuesday! Click here for more information.
Fantasy novelist M. B. Weston is the author of The Elysian Chronicles, a fantasy series about guardian angel warfare and treason, which is being adapted into a graphic novel series by Wandering Sage Publications, Inc., with Weston penning the script and KISS comic book artist, Adam Black, doing the art. Weston hosts a podcast on her To Elysia and Back Again blog, which can be downloaded on itunes. Click here for a complete listing of the To Elysia and Back Againpodcast episodes. Weston is also the host of The Final Cut in Movies, an internet radio talk show about science fiction and fantasy movies on Ad Astra Radio, which can also be heard as a podcast on M. B. Weston's Podcasts site or on iTunes. Weston speaks to children, teens, and adults about writing and the process of getting published. For more information on M. B. Weston, visit www.mbweston.com. Find out more about The Elysian Chronicles at www.elysianchronicles.com.