I waffled on this month's blog entry. I wanted to steer completely clear of elections and the economy, but it's been difficult, they're just so in your face 'there' right now.
Dragging you and I away from the real world then, let's talk about the senses and how much we need to have them in our books, but only at the correct time. When you sit and watch a movie everything is supplied for you, at least we hope so. You don't need to close your eyes to see what John the hunk looks like or Stella the big boobed beauty, he or she is right there in front of you. No imagination needed. Course, you can't touch them or smell them, but the visual is so clear the rest just seems unimportant somehow. We've grown lazy and too many of us have lost that childhood talent of creating worlds in our minds.
If you listen to an audio story, the tone of voice can mesmerize you, but you can still settle in and dream of what that well muscled biker dude looks like, imagine what he'd smell like next to you, or what his hands would feel like if he touched you. The voice of the narrator lulls you into that dream world, but you still get that thrill of creating the world, the colors and textures of it, the smell of it. In a way, this is the perfect way to take in a story. It frees you to sink into the words, effortlessly. Timing here is incredibly important.
I think a good writer has the ability to take you into that world. That's a writer's goal—to make their words invisible, to allow the reader to forget their reading and simply fall into the story. If we're good, and I mean very good, we give just enough information, at just the right time, so the story unfolds, and the information appears, exactly when and where the reader needs it. If we're too early, or too late, it takes them out of the story and that's bad. Also, if we give them too much, a laundry list of description it kills the story and the reader may very well put the book down, or flip to another website, annoyed at us for destroying a perfectly good hour of pleasure time.
Have you ever read something so beautifully written, it flows like a wave across your mind, the dialogue is amazing and that hook at the beginning just won't let go? Nice huh? Then, for whatever reason, the author shares a bit of knowledge that's just too late and worse, it's wrong. The hero who you'd decided is a Greek god, muscular, bronze fleshed and wide- chested and BLOND, turns out to be tall slender, BLACK haired and has a hairy back. It's like the radio announcer stopped reading the story and switched to something else. The reader is jarred right out of whatever was happening.
The senses have to be there, but they have to be right as well. And told/shown to you at the right time. The sultry, dark haired siren needs to show herself shortly after you find out she's entered the room, not five pages later when the red brick wall collapses onto the bed, flattening her and the hunky male, who just happens to wind up paralyzed, but able to read minds. Oops, that bit just fell in there. That's the laundry list, and you don't want that either.
Do you get what I mean?
A woman walks into a room.
Is she a redhead or brunette? Is she tall, short, fat, slim? What's she wearing? All those you can fill in, or enough of it to give your reader's imagination the right direction to travel. Also, what's in the room? You don't need to tell it all, but you do need to give something or the poor reader will fill in the blanks. If it's a bank, it gives one texture to the story, if it's a stinking barn you get something else entirely. What does it smell like, money or cow poop? LOL
And the taste of things, very important, but only when it's right, needed. When your characters are kissing, does one have minty fresh breath while the other just had a burger, with onions? I hope not, but it happens and our characters are people. How about smell? Does someone have BO 'cause they've just came home from the gym when the wife decides it's time for some hanky panky?
It's all part of good writing and filling in the picture for the reader, guiding them, showing them the picture you see in your mind. It's what we strive for and practice the craft for. And, when we hit it right, it's an amazing feeling.
What do you think?
*Jude Mason - Come, explore with me…if you dare*
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