Improving Snesory Details?

1 month ago | AdamBolander (Member)

I just got word back from the agent I've been querying. She loves my book and would love to represent it, but first I need to make some improvements. Most notably, she says "The sensory details should have me right there in the scene with Henry and Ethan through their journey. Ramp it up and make it visceral. Something that puts me right in the middle of each scene with the characters."

Any advice on how to do that?

Author of The Gray Ranger, The Slayer and The Sphinx, Juryokine, Amber Silverblood, and more! Read for free on http://www.bolanderbooks.com

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  1. nippoten (Member)

    Posted 1 month ago

    man i don't know

  2. AdamBolander (Member)

    Posted 1 month ago

    I've been working on it for the past couple days. Here's the first few paragraphs of the book, as they were originally and now that I've rewritten them. Am I going in the right direction?

    ORIGINAL:
    The moon looked like a giant floating toenail the night I appeared over 1157 Westwillow Drive—directly over it.
    I fell with a scream to land on the house’s roof, only to tumble over the edge and onto their trash cans. A raccoon that had been rummaging inside went rolling across the driveway, and sprang back to its feet to hiss at me…until it saw the polished stone cube I had in my hand. Made up of dozens of smaller boxes, like a prehistoric Rubik’s Cube, the way it reflected the moonlight instantly mesmerized the dumb animal. Dazed from my fall, I didn’t realize what was happening until after it had already snatched it away.
    “Wha- no, no, no!” I yelled, grabbing for it. The raccoon dodged between my hands, scampered up a tree, and held up its prize to admire it.
    And then it vanished in a flash of light.
    I stopped, slowly lowering my hand, and groaned. “Now you’ve done it, Henry. McGus is going to kill you!”
    Before I could contemplate my inevitable doom, though, a scream rang out from inside the house. Cursing, I scrambled to my feet and rounded the house to get to the front door. As I ran, I drew the ping pong paddle from my belt and gave it a flick. The handle elongated until it was as tall as I was, and the paddle poomph¬-ed outwards to form a giant wooden warhammer.
    Her name is Splatsy.

    REWRITE:
    Energy burned inside me, like a Red Bull blood transfusion, the night I appeared above 1157 Westwillow Drive. I was ready to hunt, to fight, to…
    Wait. Above it?
    My stomach shot up into my throat as I plummeted the five feet to the roof, cracking my skull like an overcooked egg, before rolling head over heels the rest of the way down. I flew over the edge with a scream, which turned into a grunt when I bounced off the trash can below. A not-so-graceful pirouette flipped me over, and I landed with my face smashed against the rough concrete of the driveway.
    Well, tonight was off to a good start. For a minute I just laid there, head throbbing like somebody had set off a firework in my ear, doing my best not to consider trying my luck as a speed bump.
    In front of me, the trash can tipped over, dumping out a very confused raccoon. It hissed threateningly—but then cut off when it saw the treasure I was holding. A polished stone cube, made up of rows of dozens of smaller boxes like a prehistoric Rubik’s Cube. Its eyes widened in greed.
    I realized what was about to happen a split second before it did.
    “Hey!” I yelled as the little thief snatched it out of my hand. “Give that back! Bad trash panda!”
    I lunged for it and missed, skinning my elbows on the rough driveway. Ignoring me, it raced up a nearby tree. There, it held up the Cube, admiring its prize in the moonlight…
    And then vanished in a flash of white.
    Everything went silent. Suddenly I felt like I was back in first grade the day I’d accidentally put the hamster through the pencil sharpener. “Oooh, Henry’s in trooouble!” my classmates had whispered, hiding grins behind their hands as they eagerly waited for the teacher to rain fire and brimstone down on me.
    But McGus wasn’t Miss Brodhuff. He was a thousand times worse.
    Before I could contemplate my inevitable doom, a shrill scream of terror came from inside the house. I was on my feet in an instant, heart pounding in my ears as I raced for the door. With one hand, I drew the ping pong paddle that hung from my belt. I flicked my wrist, feeling its comforting weight as it transformed into a wooden warhammer as tall as I was.
    Her name is Splatsy.

    Author of The Gray Ranger, The Slayer and The Sphinx, Juryokine, Amber Silverblood, and more! Read for free on http://www.bolanderbooks.com
  3. Alexander.Hollins (Member)

    Posted 1 month ago

    you're in first person, but you're describing the details as if its happening in third. you're describing how someone ELSE would talk about what happened. Instead of the character describing the action in your head, let them describe the feelings in theirs.

    My stomach shot up into my throat as I plummeted the five feet to the roof, a loud thump cracking my skull like an overcooked egg. The pain in my head was joined by a dozen new ones from rolling head over heels the rest of the way down. I flew over the edge with a scream, which turned into a grunt when I bounced off the trash can below. The can clattered away as a not-so-graceful pirouette flipped me over, and I landed with my face smashed against the rough concrete of the driveway, the cold warring with the heat of pain.

  4. A. B. Boekelheide (Member)

    Posted 1 month ago

    I personally think the rewrite is moving in the right direction. I do think the rewrite is definitely more visceral and pulls me more into the scene with the character. However, Alexander.Hollins is right in that a lot of what you added describes action rather than sensory details.

    Still, you did add in some good sensory details like "my stomach shot up into my throat", "heart pounding in my ears", "head throbbing like somebody had set off a firework in my ear", "feeling its comforting weight". I think adding even more details like these would help to "ramp up" your story even more.

    For example, instead of just saying the character skinned his elbows on the driveway, you could talk about how his elbows stung as they scraped against the concrete.

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