Today I receiver the latest of David Farland’s writing tips where he talks about writing to the seven senses. He starts out by saying “I was judging a contest this morning and found a story that I really wanted to love. Unfortunately, the author didn’t transport me into the tale. He didn’t use smell, taste, sight, touch, or sound enough. That’s too bad, because the character and conflict were fascinating”.
In the next paragraph he adds this advice from a dear old friend “Dean Wesley Smith, teaches authors that they should reference each of the senses at least every 500 words—or every two pages. I think that’s wise counsel for beginning writers. Doing it might seem mechanical, but if you take it up as an exercise, it will quickly teach you to make sure to ground your story in imagery”.
When I was in school I only learned about the five sense sight, smell, taste, touch, and sound. David goes on to add two more kinetic or motion and thought or emotion.
As I read through this email I couldn’t help but think of the writing I did yesterday in one of my books and what I could do to include the seven senses in my story. I need to do a complete write not that it was really bad but there was more tell and less show then there should have been. One of my Characters is a young Sylva Ranger. I talk about what they are; I need to rewrite this with his thoughts and feelings about having become part of this élite group. After all at the start of the story no one knows what Sylvan Rangers are some might realize that Sylvans are a type of elf often called wood elves and rangers are warriors that specialize in caring for nature. Therefore, they might assume that sylvan Rangers are wood elf warriors that care for the forests. Though many readers might remain clueless as to what they are and all will fall short of who they really are.
In my world elves are divided into six tribes High (Original), Gray, Sylvan (wood), Desert, Aquatic, and Arctic. One member from each tribe is called to represent “Lord” the tribe to the Elven Council. Each tribe has a small security force the best of the best that protects their interest and to a lesser extend provides security for their selected “Lord” Each is based in Mount Corellon where the Elven Council meets The Sylvan Rangers report to the Sylvan Lord and are warriors with some magical ability relating to nature and the forest. These abilities are different from Ranger to ranger but might include the ability to talk with animals or plants, the ability to control the weather, the ability to make a plant grow, to heal the sick, or purify food and water. There are many Sylvan elves that are rangers but only the best are selected to become Sylvan Rangers. They are selected in their youth based on the skill and potential they show. Few are selected and those who are must work hard to improve not only their fighting skills but also to discover and develop their special skills.
I need to change the start to include this young Ranger thinking about his selection to the Sylvan Rangers, what he went through and his thought of pride for being selected. Then add in the thoughts and other senses as they first see the smoke rising above the forest in the distance then as they arrive to find the burned out encampment and slaughter of a group of their fellow Sylvan Elves.
I’m not going to give away the story line but there is a lot of work to bring these few short pages up to where they need to be so the reader can see and feel through the eyes of this young elf what he feels and sees. Something new for me to learn and experiment with.