Exercise #878: Craft
Today’s exercise comes from Cynthia. Thank you, Cynthia! I’m taking this one nearly verbatim; you did a great job with your Craft suggestion.
Creating atmosphere to frame narrative.
One way to pull the reader deep into a narrative is to immerse her in rich sensory description. For example, think ghost stories: the full moon, the wind in the branches, the hooting of an owl, the flashes of lightning, shadows moving behind the barn. Many authors utilize location descriptions, or nature descriptions with detailed sensory information (not only visual), to introduce the story line or even move the plot. In some literature, location for example can almost be a character in the story, and throughout the narrative generates and regenerates an underlying meaning connected to plot.
A writer can also really botch this up, when he or she is too heavy-handed with it, overdoing the metaphoric - it can be really silly or tacky. But used well, it can enhance the unfolding of the story and can deepen the reader's experience - and maybe even help the writer with the flow of the writing.
A good example is the beginning of the novel "The Corrections" by Jonathan Franzen. I read the book many years ago but the atmosphere the author creates to start the novel really stuck with me:
For today’s Exercise:
Describe a place, or moment, using all the sensory elements you can. If you need some inspiration, consider going for a walk, or sitting outside for a moment just observing and sensing, or opening your window wide to listen to the night sounds and breathe the damp air. Write down in as
much detail as you like the sensory impressions. Then, read your description. How does it make you feel? Could you imagine something happening in the atmosphere you just described, something that could begin a story, or further a story? Think about what kind of story that could be. If you want, tell us your idea.
Critiquers, along with a technical critique, you might try answering these questions:
* Did the writer’s description generate sensory impressions in your mind?
* Was it too much or too little for your taste and judgement?
* Did it appeal to your own senses?
* Did you find the emotion related to the description to be fitting? Why or why not?
Word limit: 1200
Please use the subject line
SUB: Exercise #878/yourname