Homespun Bride by Jillian Hart, Steeple Hill Books is a fascinating read. The heroine of our story, Noelle is blind. All of her observations are sensory. She feels the snow on her face. She senses the mood in voices. The footsteps of her beloved Thad are unique as well as his scent. She describes his voice as baritone. Love that word. Writing from all the senses gives the reader a different vantage point. It causes us to draw from our memories as we relate to the characters. It takes a gifted writer to capture those senses and draw the reader through the scene with them.
Jillian has done her research as she describes how Noelle does everyday tasks. Counting the steps from the door to the stairs, placing her finger in the tea cup as she pours so the cup does not overflow, the rough feeling of a calloused hand in hers all come to life. Her description of 1880s Montana in the winter paints vivid scenes. Noelle and Thad’s struggles are mirrored in the descriptions of the weather.
As I read this book with my writer’s eyes I kept wondering why the author was delaying the happily ever after of the two lovers. Then I saw it. There was another emotional connection that had to be addressed. There was something more than her obvious blindness and feelings of being damaged goods. Once that emotional layer was revealed and addressed the road to Fin ran seamlessly.
That conflict of the soul was the key to keeping me turning the pages. Let’s face it in real life we want things cut and dry but they aren’t. We want people to take a chill pill and get over themselves. But they don’t, we don’t, the world is complicated. Excellent writers create those characters that causes the readers to say out loud take a chill pill and get over yourself but continue to read to find out how they overcome.
As I rewrite my novel I am more aware of my use of all the senses or the lack of. What are they touching, smelling, hearing, tasting? The character need not be blind for the author to describe what she holds in her hand. Taking a closer look at my characters and asking how deep do their struggles go? Knowing the root causes flow deep makes the plot twist obvious. I know the reaction at any given moment which shapes my characters into real people.
What are you reading with your writer’s eyes that taught you something to improve your writing?