Rich Ritter - The New Voice of the American West

How to Write the Great American Novel: Step 3

Before you read this next step, I must confess that I've found it nearly impossible to follow. My trashy mind wanders around far to much to allow such focus. Maybe you will do better.

Use all of your senses all of the time. Too often, even though I cannot even see the eye chart without my glasses, I rely primarily on my eyes to understand my environment. Try this the next time you are gazing at a beautiful sunset: close your eyes and hear the sunset; push your fingers into your ears and smell the sunset; hold your breath and feel the sunset; open your mouth and taste the sunset. Or try this the next time you are walking up an exterior stairway on a luminous afternoon after a rainy morning: watch your shadow dance across the treads and railing posts; feel the roughness of the splintery handrail rasp against your palm; relish the painful burn in your thighs as you trudge up each step; listen to the rhythmic sound of your footfalls and the shimmer of the trees and the song of the birds; smell the pungent fragrance of the dewy shrubs and damp grass. Now, when you are about to write about a character watching a sunset or walking up stairs, you will be ready.

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