A lot of what we read (and write) is description of what the characters see. We call it ‘setting the scene’ or ‘backdrop to the story’. The other senses are often overlooked or not used in the best way to promote our understanding of the characters.
In the next few posts I will be looking at how we can incorporate the other senses to tell us more.
Today we will look at HEARING.
‘As Alison came in from the garden she heard music playing. The radio was plugged into the socket nearest to the kitchen door. Its wire stretched across the hall. Balanced on the bottom step of the stairs to the attic, it sent waves of 1960 into the air and up the narrow staircase.
‘Gold.’ She shook her head. How could her sister, just two years older than herself, have such an ancient taste in music?’
We now know we have two sisters, quite close in age but with very different taste in music.
We might conclude that Alison is the more cautious as she notices the wire across the hall, whilst her sister is oblivious to the trip-hazard.
Might we question what the elder sister is doing in the attic? She is obviously planning to be there for some time as she has organised background music.
Are we looking at an old house, possibly with a separate staircase leading from the kitchen to servants’ quarters in the attic?
Our attention is caught.
Will Alison change the station to the type of music she prefers?
Will she climb the stairs to join her sister?
Is there a link between the era of the music and the trip to the attic?
Will she be worried by her sister’s preoccupation with the past?
So much of the story may evolve to explain a sound that might just have been written as ‘music was playing’.
Look for opportunities to sow these seeds through the senses.
Next time we will take a look at the often evocative sense of smell.