Observing even the smallest details that surround you in life can help add color and spice to your writing.
I haven’t done one of these in a while, and I’m trying to start back up. If you have ever attended one of my writing workshops on description, you may have heard me say, “Your world needs to haunt your reader.” The world that you have created, including the landscape and folklore, should stay with your reader even after she puts the book down. Infusing your story with rich sensory details can help you accomplish that goal.
I’m currently vacationing in the Smokey Mountain area of North Carolina, and I have enjoyed a few hikes in the woods (as much as I can in my 3rd trimester).
So many of my stories, especially those in the Elysian Chronicles, take place in the woods. I “put on my writing hat” so to speak. As I walked through the forest, I tried to pay attention to the sensory details surrounding me with the hopes of improving my stories. Here are a few things I noticed:
- The forest has sounds. We all know this, but actually being in a forest reminded me of how many sounds it has. Wind moves the trees and leaves. Birds sing–a lot. And the insects! Some sound like crickets, constantly chirping. Some swarm. I realized that as often as I have written about bird noises, I rarely talk about bug noises.
- Woods have tree roots. These make excellent character-tripping devices. 😉
- Spiders live in the forest, too. Not only do spiders bite, but they weave webs–often across pathways. (Guess how many webs I ran into today?) Adding in little details such as running into spider webs can create tension, comic releif, or both.
- The trees in the Smokies grow close together. This doesn’t really matter for most people, but my Elysian Chronicles characters are angels. (I call them cherubians.) They have wings, and I must take their wingspans into account when I write them. My characters would not be able to fly in this forest. Upon that thought, I realized just how unique my RSO’s are. They feel comfortable fighting in the woods–even when confined to the ground. This realization gives me several paths to follow in future books.
- Only certain animals pose a threat to cherubians. A panther or tiger–a beast that sneaks up on prey, would be more dangerous to an angel than a bear who usually announces its presence. An angel can fly to escape the bear, but can’t escape a surprise attack. I started thinking more about creatures that were dangerous to angels, and I think I have one to two new types of scary monsters I can bring in to a new story.
A two mile hike gave me loads of new material for stories because I tried to pay attention to details I normally miss. It’s a good lesson for all of us to pay attention to the world around us as we pass through because the little details make out stories feel real and end up haunting our readers.
How about you? Have you ever noticed something in your daily life that you can apply to your stories?