TV or Real – by Karen Fainges

The difference between great writing and good writing is like the difference between TV and real life. Although TV can take you places, you can’t really touch it, smell it and taste it. I often used to imagine a scene in my head and “watch” it like TV in order to get it right. Lately I have realised I am missing out on too many of the things that make life real that way. For example, a “watched” scene could tell you the colour of the clothes the principals were wearing, the words they said, even the scene around them. But it can tell you about the smell of the fresh clean air, or the warmth of the sun. Those need to be added in as well for the full experience when reading.

I suppose the most important thing to add is the emotion. On TV, the emotion is often captured by the music. It provides the ambience. So how is that carried over to writing? Many things trigger feelings, smells, snatches of song, the feeling of butterflies in the belly. All those can be added to take the dry – “she walked down the street in her red dress” to become – “Surprised to find herself humming as she walked, she realised, for the first time in a long time, she was happy. Warmth from the sun was pleasant on her shoulders, the smell of roses nearby, the feel of the soft cotton of her new red dress. Yes everything was perfect.”

Both have a female walking down the street in a dress, but there is a world of difference when it comes to how involved the reader can get. What tricks do you use to get the full 3d surround sound experience?


3 responses to “TV or Real – by Karen Fainges

  1. I try to use emotion and the scenery either seperately or together in order to get my point across. Most of the time it works, but there’s still a learning curve to it.

  2. I think a good writer never stops learning. Even my favourite authors seem to improve book by book.

  3. I’ve been doing the same thing – imagining as TV. I’ve realised while I’m fairly good at provoking an emotion, or people, I am terrible at description, and I’m going to making a conscious effort to change that in future


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