Sometimes writers compare themselves to method actors.
You know who you are.
You’re the one torn between actually experiencing what’s happening to you and trying to record and remember all the details so you can use it in your fiction later. Like the grubby walls of the ER or the sensual touch of your lover’s hand. Those snapshot moments that take your breath away, that are too intimate to write about clearly–how the pain catches at your side and the cramps force you to bend over, or the vibrancy of the reds on the Japanese maple on a gray day and how they give you hope, or even the sweetness of holding a little girl’s hand as you cross a quiet street together.
Usually, for me, none of these tiny moments inspire story. They can, like the sad eyed dog with dreadlocks for hair who reminds me of an old soldier guarding his corner of an abandoned lot. But usually, those small times are reserved for imbuing a character with sensory details, or giving a setting more character.
And speaking of sensory details — have you ever tried following strict guidelines for using them? Like a touch every five pages, or a taste every ten? It’s one of the ways I can find the next sentence in a story, by asking what is the character touching/smelling/tasting?
But those senses can’t be used alone, or you’ll end up with a very rote story. Every sense detail generally also comes with a reaction. He might smell something like roses, which means nothing. Or he might smell her rose water perfume and be strongly reminded of his mother’s funeral and how the sanctuary was filled and overflowing with bouquets from all those men who weren’t his father.
So go ahead. Remember all those tiny moments. But don’t just use them. Use a reaction to them.
What moments in your daily life inspire you?