Oh, hai. I know it seems like I've forgotten you. But I haven't. I've just been super busy getting ready for SCBWI (!!!) in a few weeks (!!!!!) that I haven't had quite the usual amount of time to dedicate to blogging. But I really heart you guys, so I'm resolving to change that.
In between frantic rewrites, Zumba and spinning classes to sharpen my mind (the jury is still out on the "Does exercising more help Heather concentrate?" experiment. I think I might prefer a nap but I lost 2 lbs so...yay.), and wondering what I'm going to wear every day of the conference, I've been reading Connie Epstein's The Art of Writing for Children. This was on my list of recommended reading from the VCFA faculty, so naturally I wanted to read it before January (I am clearly an overachiever.) So far, the book seems to provide a nice overview of writing for children (picture books to YA), and gives good examples when pointing out how to look at things from a child's point of view. (The example so far are mostly from MG or chapter books, so if you're considering this read but you want something geared more toward YA, this might not be the book for you.)
This chapter really got me thinking about how I use senses in my writing. I think I use them pretty well. For example, there is one scene in my WIP where my MC is tasting fruit, and that was one of my favorite scenes to write - I remember closing my eyes and imagining every detail of the experience of eating fruit, then trying to find just the right words to describe it without going overboard. It took a few revisions, but in the end I think it came out great. Thinking about my own experience of something helped me describe how my character would react.
But I also tried to think of some of the weaknesses in my sensory descriptions. I think perhaps sometimes I go for the easy/obvious description, and don't read out and try to think of the not-so-obvious way to describe something. I want to start incorporating that more, and I think it will bring some unique perspective to my writing.
And now, a writing exercise! (I know, I'm like Shannon Messenger over here, giving you assignments.) Write a scene where you have to describe something, but don't use the obvious choice in sensory detail to describe it. For example, your character gets caught in a rainstorm, and instead of describing the way the rain smells or sounds or feels, maybe she opens her mouth and tastes it. Make sure the descriptions serve a purpose in the scene, and try to draw on your own experience, when possible.