Thursday, March 9, 2017
Overview Setting: Sensory Details Perception External
Workshop: An Introduction to Writing for Children and Young Adults
“You present your story in terms of things that can be verified by sensory perception. Sight, hearing, smell, taste, touch—these are the common denominators of human experience; these are the evidence that men believe.” Dwight V. Swain
As I mentioned last week no sensory observation is considered complete until the fictional character’s emotional response is included. When eating new foods, or hearing new sounds, the concrete details help the reader recognize the character as more real as he reacts to the senses. Just as word choices need to be specific, so do the sensory details need to be definitive, externally as images and internally as personal reactions.
What are the telltale signs that we’ve moved from one neighborhood to another? What makes the restaurant on one street so much better than the next? We also want to make these sensory observations unique and not generic.
Picture book techniques impact all our senses through the story by the visual images and the sound of the language. They are crucial to their readers. By applying their principles to our manuscripts, when needed, can impact our novels too.
One method is to pause a scene or a description and examine it as if a frame in a movie or a photograph. For a moment we remove the sounds or taste or touch or whatever the key focus is and look at how else the passage influences our sensory radar.
It would take too long to do this for every scene but whenever we feel that something is missing, or not quite what we intended, stepping back helps clear our external perception.
Choose a movie that is age appropriate to your intended readers.
1. Take one particular scene from the movie and put it on pause. Whether you like to write poetry or not pick out words and phrases from the visual sight that you would incorporate in a poem, with the idea that a reader may, or may not, see this ‘painting’ for themselves.
2. Write a poem based on your selections just for the fun of it.
3. Do the same exercise for a visual scene in your own novel.
Share: Did you notice anything that surprised you?
Read deep, marcy