Friday, September 25, 2015

Paying attention to detail

I like to think of myself as detail oriented, especially in my writing. I love to read about the rich sounds of the big city, the alluring smells of the corner bakery, the magical sights of a lone country road, the touch of a tiny baby animal or the taste of an apple picked fresh from the tree. These details enrich my reading experience and make me strive to be a better writer.

All too often, we get caught in the trap of writing for the sake of writing - trying to hurry through the days word count or page count without stopping to make sure the words are the best that they can be. Many, many times, this is what happens with my first drafts - boring words with no attention to the details.

However, once I have the "bones" of a story on paper, then I can jump into the fun part of writing. Adding the color of my hero's eyes: are they sparkling blue like a midsummer's day, or swirling green like the changing forest? Adding the sounds of the current environment: is the town old and dying, or is it fresh, new and growing? Adding the taste and texture of the heroine's evening meal: is it spicy and hot with a flair for the exotic, or is it the comfort food of a lip smacking hot dog? Adding the smell of the current surroundings: is it salty from the spray of the sea foam, or is it dusty from the mountaintop coal mine? Adding the sensation of touch is sometimes hard: does the heroine's dress feel thread-bare and worn, or is it starchy and stiff?

With the onset of autumn - my favorite time of year - my attention to detail is heightened. The blazing rainbow of colors as the sugar maple trees start to turn, the deepening yellow color of the goldenrod as it ages, and the white snowflake blooms of the frost asters as they dance above the meadows.

Overhead I hear the loud honking of the geese as they make their way to winter parts unknown, the crackling and popping of a backyard bonfire, and the crisp, wet crunch as I bite into a freshly picked pear or apple. I love to touch the dew drops as they glisten and cling to all the garden foliage, feel the rough texture of the corn shocks as I make arrangements in my front yard, or the smooth feel of the pumpkins fresh off the vine. Autumn brings the taste of sweet and gooey carmel apples, the spicy hot flavor of a huge pot of chili, and the warm aromatic tastes of hot cocoa or apple cider. The smells of autumn are probably the best from the damp, wet leaves littering the sidewalk to the clear, fresh breeze after a rain shower to earthy fragrance of the late blooming herbs.

Paying attention to details and describing to your audience the five senses are the best way to draw the reader into your story. Being able to picture yourself in the situation be described is the hallmark of a good author.


  1. This is how I try to write. I know it's what I enjoy reading - when an author takes a breath of fresh sea air and I can taste the salt - smell the brine - hear the lap of waves against dock or beach. When that happens, the writer, whether it's Stephen King, Jack Higgens, Anne Rice or now and then my readers say me - they have succeeded! Well said, Bobbi!

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