Friday, June 14, 2013

MaryLu's Musings

People often say that when they read my books they feel like they are right there in the scene with my characters whether it be on a ship with sea spray showering their face or having tea in the parlor of some southern mansion. I can't say that I know exactly how I'm able to pull that off, but I will tell you that by nature I'm very attuned to my surroundings.  I believe that places, whether outside or inside, have a "feel" to them. Maybe it's spiritual, maybe it's just a combination of scents and temperature and general atmosphere. I don't know.

Have you ever walked into a place and instantly felt something...perhaps a darkness, a heaviness in the air, or alternatively, a sweetness, a peace?  If you have, then you probably know what I mean. Every place has a "spirit".  That's the spirit I try and capture when I'm writing a scene.

For example, in my current Escape to Paradise series, the next book, Elusive Hope, takes place in the jungles of Brazil. Though I've never been to the jungles of Brazil, I did grow up in South Florida so I'm well aware of what it feels like to be in the tropics, surrounded by lush greenery with air that is saturated with heat and moisture!   I'm also familiar with the sound of parrots and other tropical birds and the gush of a waterfall. The times I've been in such an environment, I've felt a number of things: Peace, tranquility, an awe of nature, and a bit of mystery.  This is the feel I was going for in Elusive Hope. To help place me in the scene I gathered pictures and placed them all around me. Then I found jungle sound effects online and played them while I wrote. It really helps to put me in the scene.

My hero and heroine are traveling together through the tropical foliage, so I stopped my writing often, closed my eyes, and imagined what they must be feeling, seeing and hearing.  First of all, the heat would be so oppressive, and that, along with the thick humidity, would make it feel as though you were in a sauna. All around you birds, insects and other creatures would be chirping and buzzing. Leaves would crunch beneath your shoes as you walked, twigs would snap. Lizards, frogs and toads would be climbing tree trunks all around you. Spiders and other insects would fill the air: Butterflies, moths, flying beetles, flies, gnats, mosquitoes. In the distance you hear the sound of rushing water.  Something bites your neck. You slap it and feel the sweat coating your skin. The air is so heavy with moisture, you feel like you're slogging through water. Vines drop from trees and crawl over the
ground like fingers of a giant. Leaves in every shade of green surround you, slapping you as you walk past. All around you life is teaming, and you feel like an alien, like a stranger in another world.

Now, close your eyes, put yourself in the jungle, and see if you can feel the heat and hear the sounds!
If you need help, click here, and play the jungle music. 

I believe part of the wonder of reading a good book is being able to travel to other places, exotic places that you may never have a chance to see in your lifetime. How many of us have actually sailed on a tall ship, heard the snap of sails, felt the wind on our faces??  Yet, you can do just that through a good sea-faring story. Or how about ride through the streets of London in a stylish phaeton heading to an evening soiree in your best gown??   We will never experience that in real life... but we can experience in through the pages of a good book!!  That's why I love reading so much. It takes me away to another place and time.

This picture says it all! 

How about you? Do you feel that way when you read a book? 


  1. Friday, June 14th,
    "Morning MaryLu, and, crew.
    Loved hearing your explanation of how you write -- feeling, sensing, being attuned to the surroundings, sounds, temperature, etc. I am like that too ... sensitive to what is going on around me -- listening, feeling, thinking.
    Well, you obviously come by it 'naturally' ... because I have said that all along about your books -- that your descriptions bring the characters, actions, moods, stories, etc, to life. They are so believable. And yes, I often put myself into one of your character's -- heads, moods, feelings, actions, etc ... and wonder how "I" would have handled the situation.
    Enjoyed listening to the 'jungle music' ... that was neat.
    Hope you are keeping well, and enjoying "Mom and family" time.
    Take care, and, God Bless,
    In Him, Brenda

  2. Thank you so much for writing this post.
    Sometimes I feel so at a loss on how to proceed with the atmosphere of places because I haven't traveled much and live in Wyoming. My books I write lack a bit more of true experience that I think would enhance my writing a lot more.
    I love traveling and pray that God opens the doors so I can write better. I long to have people when they read my books to feel, smell, hear, and experience what I'm trying to get across.
    This helped a whole lot.

    Shelby Z.

  3. Hm...I've never consciously stopped, when writing, to close my eyes and picture my character's surroundings. Most of the time I just let it sort of "happen," but as I'm having trouble with my current scene, I think maybe a pause to reflect is just what I need. Thanks for the suggestion!

    Also...that picture is just perfect. ;) That's exactly how I feel when I read!

  4. Yes! I do feel like I'm actually doing those things while I read. That's why I hate the moment I put down the book because the journey is over. I look around and see my bedroom and all modern things I see everyday. I have a pile of books by my bed ready for when I finish a book, that way I can just start the next one when I finish and be on my next adventure:)

  5. Ooooo - yes! Love this post. You have the ability to immerse me in the scene. I am not well-travelled, and probably never will be, so I love to read stories that place me on a ship, in a jungle, on a Southern plantation, amongst a rowdy bunch of pirates ... and various other places, without having to pay the travel expenses. :) Of course, the time travel is pretty cool too when reading a historical novel - not only a different place, but a different time.
    It is sometimes hard to pull out of a good book and back to real life! Ah, but the diversion is often good - keeps my mind turning and learning.

    Love the comic picture too! So true ... (giggling and sighing here).

    Thanks MaryLu!

  6. Great post! You know I actually felt that jungle humidity in my new apartment when I first moved in...the carpets were still a little moist and the air conditioner had not been on, so the combo of the two made it miserable....but it is fine now. :)
    Hugs! Can't wait to read Elusive Hope!