Prose Corner: Descriptions

Today I received a note from one of my CP's (the ever amazing Marieke) that I'd like to share with you, my amazing awesome readers...... She said,

via  buddingwriters.org 
"...your descriptions are very eye-heavy. Color, expression, etc. Used sparingly, that's fine, but only sparingly ;)"

I knew she was right (she's ALWAYS right) because that's just how I write - I write what I SEE in my mind. I knew I did that, but... doesn't everyone? Her comment really made me think, what the heck am I missing?

So I asked on Twitter and got a LOT of great replies...

"Smells trigger emotions and buried memories,"
"Smells, sounds, all the senses."
"How does the air feel? Cool and crisp? Hot and muggy? A smell of campfires and evergreens or salty ocean?"
"What does the air feel like? How do emotions manifest physically (butterflies in stomach, etc.) Ambient sounds can create mood."
"Is a character injured? What kind of pain are they experiencing?"
"The best I've heard is describe it through the characters eyes/senses. What would he/she notice that no one else would?"

I seriously can't believe I had to think about it.

At first I felt like Peter Pan in the movie where he shouts, what else is there?!? But when all was said, I thought, DUH! I should KNOW this...

I'm not sure why, but the realization that I write mostly through my eyes feels like a critical turning point for me. Now that I'm thinking about it, I understand that there should be a balance of description from all the senses. Obviously it'd get really boring if I described everything through every sense, but I think that last comment takes the cake - which sensations would my character be noticing in the moment? Which ones would win out over the others?

If the smell of the place is putrid, they wouldn't pay much attention to what people are wearing. If they're about to kiss, they only care about the person in front of them - not how cold it is.

How did I not consciously know this before?

How about you, friends? Do you tend to write more with one sense over the other? Have you ever thought about it? Or like me, did it never occur to you?

I'd love to hear your thoughts!

-DC

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