Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Don't forget the 5 senses

I recently read a mainstream romance (author/title shall remain nameless) and I feel cheated!

Why? Because the author, who has several books out and good reviews, forgot all about one of the most delightful senses - smell. That's right, the author never once mentioned what things smelled like during the h/h pov. I couldn't believe she'd missed this valuable tool for describing the world she'd created for her characters. There is a fabulous scene involving a camp fire. The author describes the heat from the flames (touch), she describes the crackle and snaps of burning wood (sound), the dancing red and gold color of the flames (sight), and the flavor of rainbow trout cooked over that fire (taste). But what about the SMELL of the smoke? What about the smell of that fish as it's being cooked? What about the smell of the pine forest they're hiding out in? It made me wonder if the author had ever *really* cooked a fish over an open fire or spent time out in the woods.

It takes all 5 senses to bring a book to life. The author didn't need to spend paragraphs on this, just a little clue to animate the reader's brain and make them (in this case - me!) believe the scene.

As an author I strive to keep the senses alive and fresh for my readers. That's what makes the characters and the story seem REAL. Use them all and don't let your readers feel cheated.

Sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch. They are all equally valuable tools in an author's repetoire.

~Rita Sable

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