Most writers write by sight. And most readers think by sight, so the sense of sight is the easiest way to connect with readers. Poor or cliched descriptions using sight is the easiest way to lose them. The three tips for using the sense of sight in your writing will help you dig deep to construct descriptions that are original but relatable to the reader.
I love to use color to describe characters. But I have to be careful not to overuse it. So When I first describe a character, I try to come up with a vivid description that makes an impact. Then as the story continues, I touch on that initial description to keep it in the reader’s mind. But I touch on it. I don’t dwell on it. I don’t want description to dam up the flow of the story.
- Hair as black as a new moon night
- Hair as red as sunup
- Skin tanned to “a baked bread brown.”
The colors of interiors set the mood for your interior scenes. My youngest and I visited a local art museum. The children’s room had been repainted a deep purple. It was so dark in a room with no natural lighting, that I grew depressed and could barely stand to stay in it. I could use that strong reaction for a character who is uncomfortable in a setting.
In a previous post on color, I write about how I gave one of the characters in my YA novel the medical condition synesthesia and it reveals how she perceives the other people.
While reading Writing from the Senses by Laura Deutsch, I was reminded of how much motion is a part of sight. How characters move in a scene anchors readers in it and also reveals qualities about those characters.
- Shifting feet show anxiety
- Long strides show confidence
- Flipping hair shows flirtation
- Raking back hair shows irritation
Movement of animals, the wind, and machinery all depend on sight descriptions. Sound plays a part too, but that’s another post.
Light, whether exterior or interior, has a profound affect on my mood, so I work it into my writing.
- Golden summer evenings seem perfect wrap-ups to stories.
- Harsh overhead lighting for a scene in which the main character is uneasy or irritated.
- Low lighting, like a fire in a fireplace, throws up big shadows creating a mysterious atmosphere.
How do you use the sense of sight in your writing?