Writing Tip — Writing With Senses: Three Tips for Using the Sense of Sight in Your Writing.

eyew-2162168_1280Most 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.

Color

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.

Motion

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

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?

 

Writing Tip — Reading Out Loud

teachers-23820_1280Since I’ve been posting about sound, I thought I would add one more article on the topic: reading your work out loud.

C. S. Lewis advised writing for the ear, not the eye, “make every sentence sound good.” To read more about the writing advice Lewis offered, click here.  It’s a post I’ve linked to before.

Establishing a rhythm to your writing takes a lot of experience and practice.  But reading out loud can benefit even beginning writers in a few different ways.

Catching typos.  I speak slower than I read, so when I read aloud, I find more mistakes. It keeps me from skimming a familiar work.

Weeding out bad structure. This comes under making “every sentence sound good.” When I am writing a first draft, I get the words down any old way.  Reading aloud can help me find sentences that are clunky or just plain ugly.  The meaning is clear, but I need to find a more elegant or concise way to phrase it.

Smashing writer’s block. If you are stuck in a particular part of your writing, read it out loud and see if hearing your work provokes any ideas.

Working on dialogue. I don’t know if many writers do this, but I sometimes speak my dialogue while I am writing it or even if I am just thinking about it. (But I make sure I’m alone first.) It helps me make the conversation sound more natural and sometimes, as my characters talk among themselves, I find a new avenue to take in my writing.

As you write more, you will want to explore rhythm in your writing. The passage in my novel where my main character is sneaking through the night is one I am going to read out loud because I think if I can establish a rhythm in this section, it will make it more suspenseful.

 

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