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Last Week’s WW: Hook, Line, and Sinker

Most people will tell you, that when you write description, you should try to incorporate as many senses as possible.  Sight, sound, touch, smell, and, if you can, taste.  This is the basis of immersion writing.  A style in which you want your readers to feel like they are really in the screen.   They are transported to that world, that moment, and experience a full three-dimensional range of all that your character does.

I am a big fan of this style of writing.  But I want to take it to the next level.  We experience our world in far more than these basic senses.  Especially if we ever find ourselves in an exceptional situation.

What other sense is there besides the basic five?

Elements of the Sixth Sense

No, in the real world we’re not all psychics.  But our narrator just might be.  Narration gives us the opportunity to look into someones mind and see exactly what they are thinking.   When we can see inside someone, we can find out:

  • Intuition – Your character feels that there is something not quiet right.  This kind of description can be good for foreshadowing.  Or just to show that your character is an intuitive smart guy.  Or, perhaps, he’s bad at reading situations.  Either way, it adds a deeper element.
  • Motivations – why is your character doing something?  What about the situation that they’re in makes them do what they do?
  • Thoughts – What do they think about the situation?  A two-ton atomic giraffe just busted down the wall of their house and asked them to go on a space adventure.  I’d guess he’d have some thoughts about that.
  • Emotions – So, yeah, it’s a weird situation.  But how does he feel about it?  Excited?  Anxious?  Perhaps that he’s gone insane again?These are all important to the way that we experience things.  Emotions especially.  That’s not to say that your character smells a dirty diaper and is immediately brought to tears (unless they lost a child themselves or something).   But maybe there is more there?  Maybe your character always wanted a kid, or never wanted one.  Tread lightly, but if it’s important to the story, if it enriches your character and can make us connect and believe more, go for it.
  • Associations – Deja vu?  Have you ever been somewhere you’ve never been before, but it feels like you have?  That is because your mind is having a faulty trigger.  Or it has partial data and is trying to fill in the rest based on your experiences.
  • Memories – has your character not smelled all day long cooked pot roast since her mom made it for her as a child?  Does that oil stain remind her of the homeless guy with deformed face?
  • Metaphors – These are very often used in description.  I think of it as next level description.  It is difficult to make a good, and not cliche, metaphor.  Beyond that, metaphors are intangible things.  Abstract.  You don’t really see them.  You associate with them.  Which is why I classify them as ESD.

There are likely more than this.  But if you use these, in addition to your primary senses, you’ll have a richer, deeper, more believable story.