Thursday, March 08, 2012

Sensory details and good novels

What most draws you into a novel? Of course it has to have a great plot and engaging characters, but which other device captures you and makes you want to stay in the story world?

Is it beautiful description that anchors the story? Is it incorporating the senses in the story that hits you on a gut level? I once read a novel that was rich with amazing fragrances—I swear I could practically smell the settings. What is it about sensory detail that captivates us so?

Look at the photo on the right. It was taken in Beaver Creek, Colorado. Can you feel the summer sun? Can you smell the spicy fragrance of the evergreens? Can you hear the birds in the meadow?

Do you experience moments when you smell an aroma that jerks you back to your past? Sometimes I catch a whiff of something that draws me back decades to a feeling that I’ve experienced a fragrance, but I can’t say where or when—only that it’s intimately familiar.

What about the sound of birdsong? Or the cadence of a busy city street? Do those noises flash you back? Could it be the trickle of a stream that transports you to a past memory?

What is it? What sensory element of fiction grabs you by the heart and whisks you to a distant memory?


Beth K. Vogt said...

The noises surrounding the characters. Voices.
That's what I like to "hear" in a story.

Megan DiMaria said...

Ahhh, yes, Beth.

Donna Pyle said...

Location, location, location! :) Stories set in a courtroom or prison cell prove really difficult for me to plow through. No mountains, bubbling brooks, crisp breezes, or turtle doves cooing. I love to travel, so vivid location is uber important to me. Just my two cents. :)

Megan DiMaria said...

Ahh, location as character always draws me in too, Donna.