Thursday, March 16, 2017
Overview Setting: Sensory Details Internal
Workshop: An Introduction to Writing for Children and Young Adults
“The capacity to recall the sensory impacts and perceptions of one’s early years is obviously also a vital part of the talent in question: but a further dimension of recall is needed for the physical world of childhood, which, we tend to forget, is out of scale in surroundings proportioned to adults.” Mollie Hunter
As are our story worlds out of scale to our normal everyday experiences. Not just the right word then to describe heat, or cold, or color, or temperature, but also the personal internal emotion that resonates along with them.
Crawling into a blanket-made fort for a child may hold all the anticipation of a dangerous journey, or a return to a safe haven. We need to be able to echo that experience for older readers too. The settings and description need to be in accord with both the age and the story itself.
Too often I concentrate on the description and miss the added impact of the feelings. This, I think, is what leads to a superficial treatment. I remember the first time my youngest son saw the stars at night. He was only two and did not have the vocabulary to describe what he saw. So he flung himself backwards and spread out his arms as if trying to hug the sky or hold it somehow. Pure speechless astonishment poured out of him. That night we, who did possess the word vocabulary, saw the night sky in a new way.
This, I think, is what Mollie Hunter reminds us—to be conscious of this in our writing and remember the sense of awe that accompanies these first experiences, and not to diminish their impact.
1. For each of the five senses think of a particular experience that was positive and one that was negative.
2. Next to each list your immediate personal words that describe your reactions.
Share: What horrible taste do you still remember from childhood?
Read deep, marcy