Sunday, October 17, 2010

Descriptions I: Bringing Experience To Life

We'll take a break from Suspense for a while and take a look at description. While description is important to give the reader a picture of where the character is rather than having "floating heads" as they are sometimes called when the location of a scene isn't provided, description can do so much more. By using various techniques when using description, you can bring it to life and provide the reader with important information that they can use to understand the character.

Description as a sense of place allows the reader to delve into the experience with their imagination coupled with their experience. But description also helps to visualize characters and feel the emotion of a situation.

When you observe life and bring it into your story, you witness it in variety of way. You see it in it’s details—a forest made up of a variety of trees, leaves different shapes and different shades or green or in autumn shades of burnished hues. Within the trees, you spot wildlife. Squirrels and chipmunks skitter through the branches. Birds chirp from the end of a limb. Rabbits, possum and skunks hover beneath them. You spot bird’s nest. You see the fragments of a fallen kite. You view a soft drink can between the roots.

As you view this, you also bring to this scene your own recollections from the past. Experiences you’ve had hunting in a woods, walking through them, running scared in the dead of night as limbs grope your body, all of these experiences mean something to you—they impact you—as they linger in your memory.

This sight coupled with memory then pulls at your emotion. These experience have meaning. You might recall the person you were with on the walk or while hunting. One person may have become a lost love or a lost friend. Another may have died. Another, an unknown shadow as you bolted in the darkness.

The setting then plus the experience memory adds to the person’s emotions. It opens the door of something you remember with pleasure or the opposite, something that triggers negative feelings.

With this in mind, look at the descriptions in your fiction. Are you applying these elements to your story? When your characters experience what they see and their senses come into play, the scene should arouse their emotions and affect their attitudes. A simple walk in the rain can trigger a happier time when they were young jumping in puddles and laughing with friends. Sitting on a porch swing could take the character back to the day his life was vibrant and healthy not this day as he lay dying in a hospital. The pleasure reverts to pain. Use your descriptions to evoke emotion and to deepen characterization.

As you create these experiences, you also tangle the readers’ emotions and attitudes to your story. They relate. They experience along with the characters and create the emotional outlet that keep them turning pages.


Sheila Deeth said...

I'm editing. Appreciate the advice. Thanks.

Gail Gaymer Martin said...

Thanks, Sheila. I'm putting up the next part of Description today.