Tuesday, June 4, 2013

It's the Little Things

When it comes to bringing a story to life, the smallest details can help. In life, sometimes it's the small things that we notice first. The way the cotton falling from the trees looks like snow even though it's the first week of June. The smell of charcoal smoke on the air. The feel of velvet. The crash of a deer running through the woods. The sweet and sour taste of a fresh pineapple.

Use all the senses. Focus on what the character would be experiencing and focus on the details based on what they would see.

One character might choke on the heavy smell of bonfire smoke, but another might remember a summer at camp sitting around a fire and singing songs.

If it's not something a character would notice, then leave it out and focus on something else instead. Choosing which details to include and which to leave out can tell as much about the character as it does about the setting.

For example, I love the sound of sirens. If I hear a siren coming down my road, I'll run to the door and watch whatever it is go by. It's not because I take fascination in the disasters of others. It's because my dad was a volunteer firefighter and sirens make me remember the days that I would spend at the fire station while he was out on a call.

Use those details to your advantage. Bring the setting to life, make it real for the readers, and then use it to enhance the characters. Sights, sounds, smells, touches, tastes can all take us back in time to a memory, good or bad.