In “The Art of Fiction,” John Gardener describes “the fictional dream.” This is when the author has described a scene so viscerally, the reader can see, feel, hear, taste, or smell what’s going on in the scene. Sensory detail is important in writing, but how to achieve it?
Study an object for ten minutes. It can be something you are wearing, an item on your desk or on a kitchen shelf. It can be something you use every day or a special item put away to keep it safe. You can describe the glass flower decoration above.
Notice the details of the object — the shape and texture. Explore the pieces that make up the whole. Hold or touch the item. Notice the texture, the heft. How does it feel? Does it have a smell? Look at the object from all angles.
After ten minutes, write a description of the item so thorough that a reader can imagine, see, feel, smell this object.
Next, if appropriate, write about a memory associated with this object.
That’s it. This is great practice for writing details that enrich your stories with visceral elements.