Monday, September 5, 2011

The Five Senses

When I choose a novel to read, I want to be drawn into the fictional world that the author has created. Naturally, I look for a strong plot, believable characters and an interesting setting. Those are all important elements in fiction but, to me, the most memorable books use the five senses to make the story, the characters and the setting come alive. I can always count on my favorite authors to do that. I’ve recently found another author who, in my opinion, is an expert at it.

I’m reading The Wedding Shawl, Sally Goldenbaum’s latest novel. I’ve read the other novels in her Seaside Knitters Mystery series and, believe me, she can “spin a good yarn.” Sally has created interesting, likeable characters and, in each book, she’s presented them with a unique mystery to solve. The stories take place in Sea Harbor, Massachusetts, a small coastal town. Throughout the book, Sally uses seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting and touching brilliantly. As I read, I can visualize the characters and the town, hear the seagulls squawking, smell the ocean air, taste the delicious food that Nell prepares and feel the soft, vividly colored yarn that Izzy sells in her shop. Sally makes the story come alive for me.

In my novels, which are set in Cincinnati, Ohio, I try to draw the reader into the world I’ve created by using the five senses throughout each book. Mixed Messages begins, “Ann heard the sirens the second she stepped onto the front porch. She hated the sound; it evoked too many bad memories. As she hurried down the steps and into the yard, anxious to see what was going on, the wails got progressively louder, coming closer and closer. She couldn’t tell which direction the cries were coming from but she was sure that something bad had happened to someone.” Do you want to read what happens next?


  1. Good start - and it should encourage the reader to continue. It doesn't exactly propel the reader into the story, but definitely encourages the reader to turn the page.

  2. Thanks, James. That's what I was going for: to get the reader to turn the page, to be drawn into the story.