art and the senses

Over the weekend, I saw The Artist, which was one of those amazing movies that manages to be both entertaining and thought-provoking. It's a silent film, but that's something I kept forgetting until the movie used dialogue cards, music, or sound to play with those conventions.

Movies are such a visual medium that I sometimes take what I'm hearing for granted, so watching one that put such an emphasis on sounds (and the lack of them) got me thinking about the way I include the senses in my writing.

I write mostly about what my characters are doing or saying, and I describe the things around them to help set the stage. Description is often a tricky thing for me to work on, though. I want to use enough of it to make the setting seem like a real place, but too much description can feel like an unnecessary drag on the pace of my story. It's also kind of awkward for me to have my viewpoint character mentally describe every aspect of a location, unless it's a space that's new or significant for her.

Focusing on the other senses is a fun way to bring a scene to life without making me worry that I'm doubling as an interior designer for my characters. I try to include the temperature, a texture, or the way that something tastes, smells, or feels. I hope details like that will help to solidify my world while I keep things moving along.

I want to learn to write better, more rounded descriptions, and seeing The Artist reminded me that I need to pay close attention to the way that other creative projects engage my senses. If anyone's got recommendations for books or movies that involve sense details in an unusual or inspiring way, let me know!

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