Sunday, May 18, 2008


Greetings from the Blue Ridge Mountains in North Carolina! I'm here attending a writers' conference and loving every minute. Speaking of writing, let's get started.

DESCRIPTION. This is the secret to excellent CNF. Here is where we go into our mental attic and blow the dust off our memory chest and open it. Inside are six keys to unlocking your reader’s minds making it easy for you to connect with them. Today we are going to look at five keys - the senses.

I’ll never forget the time I walked into an acquaintance’s home and its smell immediately took me mentally back to my long deceased grandmother’s home. My throat constricted and tears filled my eyes. I struggled to stay composed.

That’s the power of the senses. Have you ever had that experience?

The beauty of using the senses is that it takes very few words to tap into your reader’s memory and from that point the reader will do all the work for you. They will expand the scene in their minds without you having to write another word. The readers do the work for you!

For example:

Sundays at Gramma Kate’s meant southern fried chicken. A crispy crust enveloped the hot, tender meat. I couldn’t wait to bite into a drumstick and taste the savory juice that always managed to escape down my chin.

Did that open up a memory for you? I wrote about taste, but did you smell aroma in the kitchen? Did you hear the sizzle of the chicken in the iron skillet? Did you see your grandmother, mother, someone, cooking in the kitchen?

Look at the scene you wrote last week. Are there places where you can put in some of the senses? Keep it succinct. Don’t use a lot of adjectives. Unlock your memory and write. Remember the sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and how things felt on your skin, then make a list.

Next, incorporate the strongest words (the ones that make the most vivid images in your mind) into your piece. I think you will like the effect.

Next week: The Seventh Key

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