Thursday, July 03, 2008


Fill Your Writing Well

As writers, we internalize the sights and sounds around us and use them to create the images that move our readers.

But, when the crispness of these images fade in our own minds, it's time to leave our quiet, secluded writing room and venture out to collect more sensory detail to fill our depleted well.

Our setting, characters, and dialogue depend on our ability to recall the visual details of locations, behavior and emotions of people, and nuances of human interaction.

10 Ways You Can Restock and Refresh Your Image Well:
  1. Spend a warm, sunny afternoon people watching from the patio of a sidewalk cafe--make up stories about their lives.
  2. Take a walk along a trail canopied by large trees--inhale the scent of mossy piles of fallen leaves.
  3. Go to a petting zoo or pet store--touch and play with the animals, notice the feel of their fur/feathers/scales, their scent, and the feelings they evoke.
  4. Stretch out on a blanket in the grass under a tree in the park--watch the way the sun peeks between the leaves and feel the breeze lift your hair.
  5. Build a sand castle at the beach or collect shells--feel the texture against your fingertips and breathe in the smell of the salted air.
  6. Walk around an outdoor marketplace or farmer's market--listen to people talk to each other and the shop keepers.
  7. Get on a bus and watch the city go by--look at the design of the buildings, the different types of cars and their drivers, and the people on the street.
  8. Go to a fair, pier, or amusement park to ride a roller coaster, ferris wheel, and carousel--tune in to the feelings these rides evoke in you.
  9. Attend a live music event--let the sound move through you and dance with joyful abandon.
  10. Build a bonfire and roast marshmallows for s'mores--feel the warmth, watch the flames dance and blacken the logs, smell the tang of burning wood, taste the sticky sweetness of the marshmallows.
In addition to filling your well, these jaunts remind you to enjoy your life--outside of your writing room.

What are your favorite ways to gather sensory details?

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