I was afraid to finish that line with what we all know comes next, but it really is a valuable insight into how a touch or feel can inspire you. Have you ever taken a leaf in your hand, felt the corners, each vein and the stem? The imagery is great for finding words to describe it but the leaf has so much more to offer.
Is it waxy, or silky? Is it fresh and nimble or gathering it’s lasts rays of sun before the crinkle of fall? How does it smell or is there no odor at all? How does it move in the soft spring breeze or bend to strong winds of a brisk summer storm? So many things are there for your senses besides just how it looks. You have to take the time to examine what ever it is your writing about completely. Not just with one sense. Remember, the new car smell, or the scent of your home after cleaning? These stick in your mind. All I have to do is mention the new car smell and you know exactly what it smells like. You also associate the smell of Clorox with a fresh, clean home, although for me there are many other scents that would be nicer.
Using your senses to explore a scene can be a powerful way to give your reader a real sense of the surroundings your characters are feeling. She stood by the fire. Or: She leaned against the cold stone wall of the enormous fireplace hoping to feel the warmth of the tall, flickering flames as the chill from the winter storm blew across her feet. The second sentence allows your reader to use the senses to smell the fire, feel the cold stone, and it tells them a storm has descended on the home. They’re things they’ve felt in your lifetime and can easily recall how what the cold stone felt like beneath the hands.
As writers our job is impart these insights to our readers in a way they can relate to. Our world becomes theirs, for a short time, with every word we write. If we examine some of the things we use we can share these senses in every scene and every moment we want to become more real. Even the scenes where our characters make love can come alive with smells, the feel of soft or sweaty skin, the tickle of long hair against his chest and the callouses on his hands as they slide up her leg. We have to remember real people sweat, have callouses and smells that are part of everything they do.
It amazes me how inspiration surfaces during the most mundane activities of life. Who would have thought running a load of wash, driving home from work or playing in the dirt with your grandkids would inspire a thought that becomes a paragraph or chapter in your book?
The simple things we do each day can be turned into wonderful normal day activities for our characters, because even though they are fiction our readers want to believe they are real for that short span of time they leave their world and become a part of our world. If we show them cooking, cleaning, gardening or showering we add a dimension of real to their fictional life. That added little spice can become the catalyst to move your story along, or bring a flashback to life that gives your reader some insight into why the hero/heroine is the way they are.
An example I used is the fact that my husband is never wrong! Its draining at times, but it can be fun to prove him wrong. Sometime a fight ensues, sometimes a mild little “oh well” comes very quietly from his mouth, but it’s always interesting. I gave one of my hero’s father this trait and I’ve had a blast playing with it. I know, and understand, why my husband is this way, and where these notions emanate from so it gives me an insight to the father, and a basis for making his past understood. My heroine in the story refuses to let him get away with it. The hero, however, has learned to ignore most of it, most of the time, until he has to stand up for her against his father. Fun!
Think about this. Do you remember the first time you got splash with hot oil while cooking bacon? Do you now hold that pan lid in front of you to protect yourself? Who was with you that day, what was the discussion and how did it change how cook bacon? Memories are there and your characters can share some emotional, heartbreaking, or funny backstories that will provide insight for your readers. Find mundane ways to contribute to the real life persona of your character by infusing them with memories strewn through your book of real events that changes the way they act, think, react or veer away from something due to past challenges.
Look around as you write and remember these moments and draw on that to infuse your story with real life antidotes that your readers you smile about.