Now, I am not a person who's comfortable with public speaking. I force it because I run writing events, so kind of have to be up there. I really didn't want to read, but a few friends convinced me to. It was worth it, despite the fact that I think my face was flaming red the whole time (it felt warm, but who knows if it was visible). It was a kick hearing reactions from the listeners. And though it was not for feedback, I got some great extra feedback from an attendee I respect, so that was worth it, as well.
One thing I do enjoy doing is giving workshops, though I'm still a nervous wreck. I find this less personal than reading my own work or just being myself in front of people. I have one coming up next weekend, though it looks like it may be cancelled for not enough attendees. We've had some cancellations and several members (this is for a different writer's group--Pen Women) who usually come to the meetings are out of state (and country) or have something else going on already. I've noticed that this has been a busy month for a lot of folks. Unfortunately, there's a minimum attendance for the location it's at, and we're not there yet with the RSVPs we have. I'm finding it hard to take time for continued prep when it may very well be cancelled as of tomorrow.
Back to open mic. If you ever have the chance to participate in an open mic, I highly recommend you try it. Not only was it fun listening to everyone else read their pieces, all of which were good, but like I said above, it was nice to get that live feedback from other attendees as I read. It's a great way to see what's working and what isn't. Give it a try!
Okay, onto our guest poster. Have you ever read a story that left your senses tingling? Those authors who use sense description tend to create stories you can feel, smell, and taste, not just see and hear (the two most common senses described in writing.) Today, Nikolas Baron from Grammarly stops by to discuss:
|Image by Gina, clker.com|
Why Utilizing Your Senses Enhances Your Writing
When you read about a new recipe, what makes you want to put down the Cheetos and bake that pretzel bun? Was it that it only took twenty minutes? Or was it because the description was so inviting, delectable, and appealed to your senses? You wanted something crunchy, salty, and yeasty. You wanted something that smelled like a German restaurant. When you write fiction, using your senses adds an extra layer that traps the reader like the scent of a freshly baked loaf of bread.
Scientists say that our most memorable moments from our lives are linked to smell. We remember the fresh paint of our little brother’s room before he was born. The rubber cement we used to make posters in elementary school. Our Nana’s meatball recipe. If you can sit and write down all of your favorite memorable smells, and incorporate them into your story, you’ll be well on your way to inviting your reader on your story’s journey.
Senses are the best way to show the reader rather than tell. When you show, you give the reader the tools to figure it out on their own. When you tell them everything, your writing is not only weak, but lacks the depth of creating a viable scene.
What if I wrote something like this: I walked into the door of the old cabin that was made out of pine. There were pretzel buns on the table and it was raining. I looked for my old blue hat but couldn’t find it anywhere so I traced the countertop with my finger. I saw a bluebird outside and it chirped quickly.
In comparison to this: I ran into the old cabin slamming the door behind me. I shook off water droplets from my jacket and leather hat while breathing in the salty, yeasty air of the kitchen. The moss wept outside while bluebirds called to each other for help. I snagged a hot pretzel roll off the counter and swept the crumbs off the cool butcher-block counter onto the floor.
|By OCAL, clker.com|
One of the ways I like to incorporate the senses into my writing is by proofreading. When I go back through my story, it’s easy to see where I can improve and where the sense descriptions are weak. I also like to use the website Grammarly to help me proofread. Grammarly suggests helpful synonyms that are context-optimized to my style and story. It can help me improve the quality of my senses descriptions while also cleaning up my grammar and punctuation mistakes.
Incorporating the senses into your writing helps to transport the reader to the land you’ve created with your writing. It enhances their experience within the story and allows them to connect. Think about all of your strong memories. There are tons of sights, smells, touches, sounds, and tastes.
Think about the last time you ate your Dad’s famous chili. How long did the smell stay in the kitchen? How did it taste? Did it burn your mouth? Did you see him smile while making it? Did the pot boil and splash? From all of those senses, you can produce a very accurate and impressive description of the scene. Something readers can imagine and relate to. Try to incorporate using senses into your writing and see the difference. Read up on those who write excellent sense descriptions. Your readers will thank you.
By Nikolas Baron
Personally, I recommend Barb Samuel. Her book "How to Bake a Perfect Life" is full of comforting sense descriptions you can get lost in. Does anyone else have a book or author they'd recommend for studying the use of sense description in writing? Which sense do you use the most? Which scent do you use the least? Have you read at an open mic before? Just attended one? Would you attend one if it were offered?
May you find your Muse.