Monday, January 23, 2012

Is Your Story Raining On Your Readers? #WIPMADNESS Week 3

"Good writing is supposed to evoke sensation in the reader—not the fact that it is raining, but the feeling of being rained upon."
--E.L. Doctorow


Lately I've been thinking a lot about the elements of a good story. What makes me remember one novel a year later as opposed to the one I read last month about which I can't recall a thing? Sensory details. The feelings and sensations the story arouses in my heart, mind, and gut.
Have you ever read a story that makes your heart race and your skin crawl? Off the top of my head, I can think of one such novel--DIRTY LITTLE SECRETS by CJ Omololu. 
That's the way I want to write this novel. I want readers to feel like they've experienced life in Occupied Paris. Tasted it. Touched it. Lived it.  Perhaps it will take years to get my story to that point, but I will not be satisfied with anything less.
How has your week been? Are you making it rain on your readers?

40 comments:

  1. I want to babble to invoke that kind of emotion, too. Hope we both accomplish that goal.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Replies
    1. Thanks for the correction. I was scratching my head. ^_^

      Delete
  3. Noooo! I need another day of the weekend, so I can do lots of editing...today is back to the reality of the day job.

    I had a decent week of WIPMadness, although I don't think I'll be able to completely finish my edits this month, like I'd planned. Close, but not quite.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I wish I could give you the day off, Jennifer. Happy to hear you had a good week!

      Delete
  4. I'm all about the sensory! I don't know if I do it well in my writing, but I aim for it. Sometimes I may spend a little too much time on that kind of description, but I can't help myself. Like you, I want readers to feel it, taste it, hear it...

    I have hit the final leg of the climax! The juicy, gonna getcha stuff that I will probably have to write over a hundred times until it makes sense. I can see the light! Let's see if I can finish this before the month is out. That's the goal!

    ReplyDelete
  5. This is a great reminder :) I know just what you mean -- the way a story makes you feel! Thanks :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I must remind myself each time I open the manuscript.

      Delete
  6. Oh completely get what you're talking about. I want to hone my skills to the point that the reader gets lost in the story; so lost that when they set the book down, they're surprised they're not where the story said they were.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I'm really trying to work on this, as one character suffers from a disability I don't have, and another character is from a country I've never been too... Research and humanizing is the name of the game for the next several weeks.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Research what you can, but draw up the emotion of what you know. ^_^

      Delete
  8. Sensory usually happens in revisions for me. Which is why I'm learning to love revisions. Adult books do a great job with these details - Water for Chocolate, Poisonwood Bible, anything by Toni Morrison. In recent reads, I'd have to say The Sky is Everywhere did a great job with this. Also a mid-grade, Alabama Moon - just cause I grew up in Alabama and it brought it all racing back to me.

    I made no progress this week on my WIP - been fighting some kind of weird crud, worked through it till this weekend when I collapsed in a heap and finally made it to the doctor today for antibiotics. Hopefully I'll be back in the game for the week ahead of us.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The Sky is Everywhere is a favorite. I should re-read it. ^_^ Hope the meds kick in and get you back in it.

      Delete
    2. I loved ALABAMA MOON and recommend it often. Hope you get better soon, Jaye.

      Delete
  9. I'm reading Stephen King's Gunslinger for the first time. Skin crawl? Check. Yeah, visceral writing is extremely important for me. So hard not to overkill!

    Wipmadness goals are slugging along. Did a ton of brainstorming/world building yesterday. The new book is starting to feel less nebulous. I'm beginning to know my MC--after a series of rather schizy interviews with her.

    This week, I'll try to pin down my tertiary character, Garrett, and see what she's all about. I also want to get a little more flow and maybe start thinking about mapping out the book. Way out of pantser territory, this.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sounds like you're doing a great job of laying the groundwork. And you'll get the payoff when you're ready to lay it down.

      Delete
  10. This is definitely where I've taken my time doing edits. I want the same experience. I want the readers to feel, taste, smell, hear, and see what's going on. It's not easy, but worth the time to try.

    :)

    marie

    ReplyDelete
  11. The book is raining on me. I don't know about my readers.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Great quote there about the raining, and I agree, the books that rock the sensory details are the books that really stick with us.

    I'm such a pathetically delinquent WIPmadnesser. But I'm back (if y'all will have me). The past month was a blur, with a death in the family (my uncle) consuming thoughts, emotions, and time. But I've started work on a new WIP finally - still feeling out what exactly it wants to be, but chomping at the bit to actually WRITE again. (Also hoping writing will help keep my mind off the waiting re: querying agents, but who am I kidding?) :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sorry to hear about your loss (((hugs))). And waiting for responses to queries? Ugh. Hope the new WIP brings you joy. You're neither pathetic nor delinquent.

      Delete
    2. So sorry about your loss, Shari. I agree with everything Angelina said. ((hugs)).

      Delete
  13. Here I am, late as usual, aaaah. I've been having a hard time pulling myself out of the wip with my revise-a-thon going on. I'm still going at a chapter-a-day clip with my CP, and then I take Sunday/Monday to go through all the feedback for that week's chapters. So intense.

    I LOVE sensory details, maybe too much. I personally need to focus more on plot/character/conflict in revisions because those sensory details are what come more naturally to me, sometimes to the detriment of more important things.

    But, ooooh, maybe the best part of this week's post was seeing the great examples of books with great sensory details. I'm doing a little happy dance for Cyn for your comment on DIRTY LITTLE SECRETS. I was lucky enough to read the first draft of that manuscript, and it was just as intriguing as the finished book. And I cannot praise THE SKY IS EVERYWHERE enough. That book made me SWOON.

    OK, gotta get back into that wip. Have a great week, all!
    Kip

    ReplyDelete
  14. You can be as late as you want, Kip. So happy to hear you're revise-a-thon in going strong! I'll trade you some plot focus for some sensory detail focus. ^_^

    ReplyDelete
  15. Good reminder to go back and check the sensory details. I've been so focused on overhauling the plot and tinkering with my mc's voice that I've let the rest kind of slide. My goal this week is to get the first fifty pages rewritten enough to let someone else see them.

    ReplyDelete
  16. I would like to think I can make readers experience that. As Jennifer noted, it's raining on me, but I don't know about how it will affect readers.

    I haven't been writing as much as I'd like. Chaos and confusion is reigning in my brain, as it tries to settle on a project and I can't seem to decide which. I've been doing some worldbuilding on a few projects, which will be eventually useful, but I'm not doing much actual writing, and that is grating on me. I would like things to calm down.

    I haven't sent out any new queries, and part of me claims mental fatigue and also politely waits to hear back from one agent who asked for a larger partial and was kind enough to inform me that she hasn't had the chance to get it yet. I finally started reading again, though, and managed two books. And the exercise is still on hold because of the sprained ankle, while I just plain stopped tracking what I was eating because it became too time-consuming and I kept forgetting.

    But today I was asked to list my strengths and weaknesses as a writer, and I realized that at my heart, I am an optimist and will continue to be so. Things will improve.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Optimism helps. Sorry about the ankle. I have no excuse for not exercising. Feeling quite guilty. Write something just for fun. Something silly or dramatic or whatever. You'll feel better. And you're right, things will improve. Best wishes with the partial ^_^

      Delete
  17. Still working on raining on my readers---or in my case really scaring them (er, a little).

    Thanks for sharing this.

    And have not read Dirty Little Secrets yet!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Like raining blood on them?
      You must go read DIRTY LITTLE SECRETS ^_^

      Delete
  18. Wonderful advice, and definitely something I try to work into my projects as often as possible. My personal favorite sense is smell in novels, and it seems like a lot of writers overlook it. But it immediately transports you somewhere so much faster than many visual descriptors... I think you've inspired me to go back through my WIP and make sure I haven't forgotten this!

    Also... My #wipmadness check-in... This has been a week of crazy brainstorming and organization, and I'm ready to get rolling again! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I love smells, too. Happy to hear you were inspired. Now get rolling. I want to smell the rubber burning. ^_^

      Delete
  19. Forgot to post Monday amidst looking for a car, taking care of Dad's chickens and ducks, and doing more revisions on the Avon thing. I have to do another read through today, so I'll see if it's evoking some of this. I have to keep an eye today to cutting extraneous words because I'm only 20 words away from the word limit and I wanted to add one more thing here and there throughout the piece. If I can drop a couple hundred I should be good. Even if I can't cut quite that many, I still have a way I can add a bit of information that fixes the issue.

    On the plus side, the beta who sent me the feedback for these last edits said he was enjoying the story quite a bit. He didn't get all the way through it and wanted to keep the last bit to finish reading it (he prints it out when reading and offering critique). Always good to hear I hooked someone. :)

    I feel good about this one. Can't wait to get it out the door, so to speak.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Your enthusiasm is refreshing! Best wishes as you approach the finish line.

      Delete
  20. I bet your WIP is wonderful! Now I'm going to look up that novel.

    ReplyDelete

Tell me what you think: