As I learned and grew as a writer, I went back over and over my novel to add more layers to it. In this series I'm writing about each of my 'layers' in the hope it will help someone who is starting out. This week we look at feelings and senses.
Your characters will come across as wooden if they don't show emotions, but don't take the shortcut of having them say how they feel. Show it and let the reader work it out. It will draw the reader in as they feel along with the characters and give them a sense of achievement as they guess correctly. Don't have a character say, 'I'm so angry, ' show the thin lips, the tapping foot, the clenched fists.
A good way to improve on this is by people-watching. Maybe you can’t hear what two people are saying out in the street or across the bus station, but can you guess how they are feeling? What clues help you? Keep notes about what you observe to add to your writing.
I talked in a previous post about description, and this should include the senses. What can the person feel, smell and taste, as well as hear and see? Have you ever had a powerful memory recalled by a certain scent? Or been in a smoky environment that had a certain taste? All the details bring your story to life.
I like to think about a scene I’m writing and let my imagination run free, often when I’m drifting off to sleep. How would I feel if I was that character in that situation? What would I hear, smell, touch, taste? As I relax, I get lots of good insights.
As a writer, reading is essential. I find it hard to analyse what I’m reading, but next time you find yourself really drawn into a scene, try to pull back and analyse how the writer did it.
Other posts in this series:Introduction