Today's tip is a quick fix for adding more detail and engaging your readers.
Remember, sight isn't the only sense you can work with.
For most people, sight is the sense we rely on the most when we encounter a new situation, so it makes sense that authors fall back on it when adding descriptions. Touch and hearing are the next most frequent senses we see in descriptive passages.
But what about smell and taste? There are obviously situations where these won't apply, but when you can use them, they're incredibly powerful. Reading a description of a smell or taste can evoke a physical response in the reader, even though it's only words on a page.
And as a bonus, many scents and tastes come with common emotional associations. Try thinking of cinnamon and sugar, or warm chocolate chip cookies, or an outdoor barbecue. It probably made you salivate a little, and put a smile on your face. And you can create the same type of reaction with a mention of unpleasant odors and tastes.
Smell and taste are actually very strongly linked to our memories, so use those experiences to your advantage. A scent can set the mood and make the reader feel linked to the character faster than anything else. (If you like to learn about the science behind this sort of thing, there are some great articles here: http://www.fifthsense.org.uk/psychology-and-smell/ and here: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/brain-babble/201501/smells-ring-bells-how-smell-triggers-memories-and-emotions)
So go ahead, shake things up a little. Think about that fresh book, old-bookstore smell, and then try adding some extra sensory detail to your manuscript to kick it up a notch.
Every Wednesday and Saturday we bring you an edit tip of the day. Be sure to check out the archives for our popular summer series of SHOW DON'T TELL workshops!