I’ve just attached five Post-its to the top of my computer screen. This is what they say:
It sounds banal, but when I’m writing, I get so caught up in the plot and the characters, I forget the sensory detail. As a reader, I know it’s those details that keep a reader immersed in the plot and attached to the characters and their experiences. Once I have finished this pass of making the final final (note the self: these are final ones) plot changes, I’m going to do another pass for sensory detail.
As a writer, and a writer of initial drafts, I err on visual details. I’m describing a town I know and love and I hope that my putative one-day readers will be able to visualise it too. However, to increase that experience, to make it more three-dimensional, I need to include smell, taste, sound and sensation.
What does a thunderstorm smell like?
How does a curry taste?
How does it feel to drive a motorbike at top speed along a highway? (Don’t know, but I can guess.)
What does a forest sound like at night?
I’ve read two books recently that were wonderfully competent, with fleshed out characters and a narrative arc to die for. Both have received literary plaudits. But they were so lacking in sensory detail that as a reader I felt emotionally detached. I started out willing to care, but by the end I no longer did.
I don’t want that.
I want my readers to feel heart-stopping thrill, I want them to be immersed and come out at the end saying, ‘I felt that.’