I’ve been reading The Emporer’s Edge series by Linsay Buroker and I love it so much that I realized I have to resist the urge to buy the next book in the series until I have finished my exams. What I love most about the books are the great physical descriptions Buroker paints for her readers. By using more words to illustrate sounds and smells I’m able to picture each scene easily and feel like I’m there too.
Being able to have your readers vision the scenes you’ve created in their minds is terrific talent. Here are my tips for creating describing scenes your readers can see:
No room is completely silent if you listen closely. Even saying the character is able to hear a spider crawling on a wall paints a better picture than saying the room was quiet.
In stories our sense of smell, sound, taste, sight and touch all have to be exploited more so readers are more likely to picture the scene.
2. Don’t focus too much on sight
Describing what your character sees in awesome detail is great talent but you don’t want sight to be the only thing your readers can relate to. By adding details in the other senses area (i.e. touch, hear, taste, smell) you will be able to draw your readers more into the story you’ve created.
Focusing too much on sight was my problem and I truly believe adding other details of the senses will make my readers picture themselves walking into each of the scenes I plant for them. Isn’t having readers enjoying your story the goal of most fiction writers anyway?
3. Make details of sound, taste, touch and smell as specific as possible
I can’t stand reading a vague description of something I know requires a lot more detailed information. If you’re a writer and trying to describe something complex, it helps if you’re as specific in your description as you can get. Or the reader will have no idea what you’re talking about.
You don’t want to over describe what’s happening but you should describe just enough for your readers to understand enough to keep reading.
Do not just say the engine smells gross. Grease is splattered everywhere and weird noises are coming from the engine.
Instead, tell where the grease is splattered. Describe the “weird” noise coming from the engine and tell what that engine smells like.
I would say that an even balance of all five senses would be best for your story but I can’t. Each story is different and different things happen that may require the use of more sensory details than another. You, the writer, have to be able to tell when each sensory detail is needed and for what purpose.
I just hope this helps.
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What would you add to this list? What is your process for creating a descriptive scene? Leave a comment and share your thoughts.