I hate crickets! They’ve got to be the most disgusting looking creatures on the planet! Well, I guess a roach might be a close second. Some of you might disagree and throw the dreaded spider in the mix. Whatever came to your mind, you know exactly what I mean, or do you? That’s the kind of thinking you’ll have to do if you want your reader to experience what you’re describing. You can’t assume the reader knows what you’re talking about. You’ve got to put yourself in the reader’s shoes and look at the event or subject from the view of an outsider. Use your five senses.
If you’re talking about a favorite place which was important in a particular chapter, then take time to answer these questions to put your reader in the picture:
1. What do you see as you look around? Are other people in the scene? What are they wearing? What colors stand out? Are their hairstyles unique? What facial expressions are noticeable? What are they doing?What time of day is it? Dawn or dusk? What does the sky look like? Where is the sun or if it’s night, how does the moon look?
2. What do you hear? Is a train passing by? Are birds singing? Can you hear someone snoring while sleeping or panting after a race? Is a clock ticking in the background?
3. What do you smell? Is someone frying chicken or do you smell liver and onions? Are hyacinths in the air? What about the perfume someone is wearing?
4. What do you feel? Is the carpet smooth under your feet? Is there grit in your shoes? Is the silk blouse smooth against your skin?
5. What do you taste? Is there an after taste from the Diet Coke you just drank? Is your mouth dry after running that marathon? Can you taste victory or defeat?
You don’t want to overload your story with a mountain of details about the setting, but you do want to help your reader experience the event. Using your five senses will work magic for your reader! Practice, practice, practice! Take a few minutes, sit, look around, and write. It’s been said that a picture is worth a thousand words. I’m not sure about that! I’d rather paint a picture with words. Go ahead! Invite your reader to dine with you! By the way, what’s for dinner?