An instructor of a creative writing class I took one time insisted that every scene needed to have all five senses represented or it wasn’t a complete scene. I dutiful covered all the bases with each assignment. My characters smelled things, and tasted stuff. The things they touched had texture. They saw and they heard. I was all about my character licking the satin slide of melting chocolate cream while watching glittering fireflies dancing on the night breeze whispering through pine needles clustered on branches before fleeing at snap of a dry branch. Hey. I was 13, okay? I have the feeling the Universe is in tune with my 13 yo self.
Oh, Silver, how I love the morning dew on my face, the midday sun on my skin, and the fragrance of jasmine wafting at twilight. The sight of dragonflies darting, the sound of owls “hoo-hooing,” and the infinite perfection conveyed by all my physical senses at every moment of every day, even now.
Thanks, Silver, because if it weren’t for you, such ecstasies I would never know.
Work that body,
Silver, just “make sure you don’t hurt nobody” (Sugar Hill in the house).
Song? Movie? Character? I’m obviously not clued in to the above “Sugar Hill” reference, but it’s a good thing to remember–that whole don’t hurt nobody thing. But I digress. Let’s get back to today’s topic–senses. And using them in writing. I find as I grew older and more experienced, my descriptions tended to mirror the particular genre in which I was writing. Fantasy/urban fantasy/paranormal? Oh yeah. Because worldbuilding! Thrillers and mysteries? Yeah, need to touch on the five senses but probably not in such florid extravagance. Thrillers and mysteries need to be tight, taut, and tingling but still atmospheric. Right?
And then there’s romance. Oh, I do have a love/hate relationship with heavy-handed descriptions in romance. Writers, dudes are NOT going to notice the style, brand or know the cost of the heroines shoes! They WILL notice that high heels make her legs look awesome. I’ll amend that. The gay best friend would but the alpha hero? That’s a big ol’ negatory! (And yes, I read TWO different books by the same author where the main narrative voices were alpha-male MC-member heroes who were total fashionista divas where their heroines were concerned. Why?!?! Because this particular author normally writes in the heroine’s POV and she’s known for the details like that. Anyway…
So, I have an uneasy relationship with descriptions. And it’s a fine line deciding what’s too much, what’s too sparse, and what’s just the ticket. I’m open to discussion on this, from writers and readers both. How much is too much? When do you crave more? What leads you to tiptoe through the tulips as you skim through pages to get to the good part? I’m listening…