“I don’t know what to do with my hands” – Touching Up Scenes for Characterization, Theme, and Backstory

As writers, sometimes it feels like we can do everything “right” and still be left with scenes that don’t quite click. Why is that, and what can we do to make those scenes pop while also enriching characterization, backstory, and theme?

In this session, attendees will explore how the use of the five senses—in a direct, intrusive way—can be used to flesh out a scene while enhancing character and theme.

  • How does what your characters see, smell, taste, hear, and touch frame not just a scene, but how they’re defined as characters?
  • “Divine” intervention: if your characters won’t interact with the world around them, put something in their hands.
    • Or otherwise stimulate the senses through force.
    • What “triggers” might they see, smell, taste, or hear?
    • Can’t think of the perfect thing? No matter—pick anything and watch how a scene changes.
  • Can these observations in the present become windows into their past?
  • How can these observations become metaphor for theme?

Fiction How to Write
Location: Date: April 5, 2019 Time: 11:30 am - 12:30 pm rr campbell headshot r.r. campbell