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  • Writer's pictureMegan DiMaria

Why readers need to experience the novel (see it, smell it, feel it, taste it, hear it . . .)

I recently read a story that left me wholly unsatisfied. The author skimped on writing in the sensory details. I felt disoriented while reading and found myself eager to be finished. When I read fiction, I need to feel as if I'm dropped into the scene and can live the character's journey. Readers who can vicariously experience the character's life in novels are transported to a different reality and live the experience. They are touched at a visceral level and changed by the experience. I've had novels deeply move me and change my outlook on the world around me. Some have softened my sharp edges and others make me more sensitive to the struggles of others.

But that's because I can slip into the skin of the main character and experience a new perspective.

The photo on the right is taken from the window of a luxury resort in Beaver Creek, Colorado. (I cashed in lots and lots of loyalty points to enjoy a few days in the Rockies.) If I were reading a scene that takes place in that resort I'd like to know what the room looked like. How did the luxurious bedding feel to a weary body? Did the wind sing as it wove its way through the pines? Can you hear the whinny of horses as they cart vacationers through the mountain trails? Did the breeze carry the fragrance of pine boughs? All those little details woven into the story help to transport the reader. If I take the time to read your book, please transport me. When I write a novel, one of my goals is to pull the reader into the story by using sensory details in the narrative. Here's a tiny bit from my wip: A breeze threaded through spindly aspens and pine trees wearing winter’s glitter. The wind stirred up fresh powder, swirling it around them in an icy spray. I want my reader to feel the chill of the air, the sting of snow on their cheeks, and see the magical beauty of fresh snow on mountain trees.

Understand, it also takes a good plot, realistic dialog, and a character's challenge that intrigues me to round out the experience. How about you? What do you hope to experience when you read or write?

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