Making It Real: Using sound, scent and visual aides when writing
Wednesday, July 23, 2014
Contributing author: T.K. Millin
Have you ever read a book that its scenes had sound, smells and images embedded so strongly into the words that you instantly were transported into the pages as if you were sitting in a movie theatre? For example: While sitting along the shore on a beautiful summer’s day, you’re reading a tale that takes place on a dark and stormy night. Suddenly, you drown out the gawking of the seagulls and the splashing of the surf and find yourself running down an endless, musky corridor. As thunder claps all around you your heart begins to race as the tension of the words heat up.
The opposite could be true, as well. For example: It’s a dark and stormy night, thunder is clapping all around you and your eyes begin to sting as you’re transported from your current environment onto the pages of a sandy beach. The smell of salt fills your mind as crashing waves drown out the clacking of sea birds. In front of you stands the lover of your dreams. They brush the back of their hand down your cheek and tell you they’ve been called off to a deadly war zone and they may not ever return.
Are all writers born with an inherent ability to spew out words that help create the ambiance of a scene or are there tricks of the trade nestled inside their writer’s toolbox?
I believe it’s safe to make the assumption that there are many writers who are able to write no matter where they are; cafés, restaurants, parks or in the solitude of their writing studio. However, I believe it’s also safe to say there are many writers who, when writing, visualize their scenes as if they were playing out on a movie screen and rely on those images inside their head to create the scene. Imagine if you actually could hear, smell and see those images!
Long before I ventured into the writing world, I was an interior designer. One of the top five tools a designer uses in order to create “the mood” is the power of sound, scent, and visual aides. Lighting, music, sound effects, colors, and the look and feel of different textures can all instantly transform a room.
Writing is no different.
The mind is an amazing muscle. And like all muscles, it should be exercised. Sound, scents and visual images all exercise the part of the brain that relates to memory. The sound of the ice cream man’s musical truck brings back memories of childhood. The scent of fresh baked bread brings back memories of Grandma’s home cooking. The sight of shape shifting clouds reminds me to never let go of the memories of childhood imagination. Each of these is a powerful tool for any writer wanting to exercise their brain.
Are you writing a scary story that takes place in the opposite season you’re in? Light a candle that represents the season of your story, turn down the lights, find a sound or song that makes you feel creepy or scared and then find an image that relates to your tale.
What if you’re writing a love story? Same thing applies! Find beautiful, romantic music, light a soft sensual candle and turn down the lights and find images that depict love and romance and let the writing begin!
By putting yourself into your characters’ shoes; in other words, hearing what they hear, smelling what they smell and seeing what they see, can help you bring your words to life!
No matter the type of story you’re telling, the next time you struggle with conjuring up the right images to write by, try pulling these tools out from your writer’s toolbox and let the exercising of your imagination begin! You’ll be glad you did.
Be sure to visit Efi Loo Publishing's Youtube Channel where you can discover our favorite sounds to write by. You'll have to provide the smells and images.
Keep on thriving, keep on striving and keep on writing!
I’d love for you to share your thoughts in the comment section below!