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What can you hear/smell/feel hiding in the closet?

One of the first things I learnt when I started to write with intent was that it was important to introduce all five senses when writing a scene.  Most people have one sense that is stronger for them than the others and it is not always sight. In fact I discovered that sight is probably my weakest sense. The sounds, smells and feel of a situation are what catch my attention. I have to really concentrate to pick up on the visual details around me in order to train myself to include them in my writing.  The point is, when a scene is written with an appeal to all five senses it not only adds dimension but it also is bound to connect with more readers because it appeals to the dominant sense in each of them.

Great. Wonderful. It is something I have tried to follow in all my writing and I believe it works pretty well.

But… there is always a “but”, no?

It seems this is not enough. There has to be more. I have spent the last few weeks trying to work this out in my head, to let the idea settle inside me so it makes sense (‘scuse the pun).  In writing, there also has to be Action.  Stuff needs to happen, to keep things interesting.  I understand the need to create tension in a scene, and I think what ‘they’ are trying to say is that this is done through the use of the 5 senses plus action.

I’ll give you an example of my dilemma. I recently wrote a piece – not quite a short story – that was a snapshot of a woman’s life; a train of thought; a moment in her life. I read it out at my Writer’s Group meeting and they were all very complimentary of my writing style. Their only critique was that it needed more tension. After reading it aloud I can see what they meant. I took no offence, in fact that is precisely the sort of honest feedback I need. Otherwise, my writing will never improve.

It was, however, interesting to hear two very distinct trains of thought. Only one person (the only other woman there, incidentally) seemed to ‘get’ what the point of the piece was.
The rest reckoned that to make it work I should have added another element.  The “lover in the wardrobe”  was one suggestion. Fair enough… only, that’s not what it was about. If it was about a woman having an affair then that is what I would have written. But it wasn’t.

So here is my dilemma. Do I really need to have a lover-in-the-wardrobe in all that I write? Do I need to change what I write about in order for it to appeal to others?

I feel a deep and resounding “Yes” coming from inside me, so I guess I just answered my own question.

Although perhaps this is less about Action and more about Surprise. Ugh. Who knows? I guess I just have to keep writing and figure it out as I go along.

Well thanks people. You have been extremely helpful 🙂
I’m off to put some lovers into wardrobes.

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