Sunday, August 5, 2012

A Greater Sense of Place

When we begin to weave a setting into our prose, our first thought of the scene is usually visual. But if you have started a collection of scenes you've found in writing, you've probably noticed how experienced writers appeal to your five senses.

In July, I shared miscellaneous selections of my "Scenes" collection with you. Following are more from that file, this time sorted by sight, sound, taste, smell, and touch.

  • "It was a two-story weatherboard place with a porch running along the front and side." -Stuart Harrison
  • "Just as he said, the pavement ended, but the road, now narrow, potholed and dusty continued to link a few estates and one little-known lodge to civilization. 'A perfect place for a tryst,' she thought." -Bernice Simpson
  • "Except for the relentless chorus of cicadas, the veld was silent." -Unknown
  • "The crooked channel, like a voluted thread of ink, the pirogue moves steadily to the paddle which both entered and left the water without a sound." -William Faulkner
  • "They were sitting at a booth in the corner, and the waitress, harried by the lunchtime crowd, dropped off a pitcher of sweet tea and two glasses of ice on her way to the next table." -Nicholas Sparks
  • It had to be the most beautiful place in the world--old-style homes on winding streets, outdoor markets, flowers everywhere--all of it made better with each sip of wine. It tasted of a touch of honey, a hint of apricot blended with the grapes, sweet and delicate." -Unknown
  • "The honeysuckle fragrance wafting through the open window, and the seagulls' calls to each other lulled us to sleep." -Unknown 
  • "The have their ghastly origins in the rank miasma of the tarn." -Unknown
  • "Our Land Rover wallowed through a maze of ravines and gullies while the sun stood scorchingly overhead." -Unknown
  • "The shell in my hand is deserted. It once housed a whelk, a snail-like creature, and then temporarily, after the death of the first occupant, a little hermit-crab, who has run away, leaving his tracks behind him like a delicate vine on the sand." -Anne Morrow Lindbergh
Sensory details do not need to dominate a scene to be effective. Note the last example. Take out "in my hand" and the scene loses its drama. I'm not sure scorchingly is a true word, but without it, would you feel the sun burning, or would it merely be warm?

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