When writing, I start from character, not simply because I think it’s a great place to start—although, for me, it’s mostly character engagement that keeps me reading (or writing) a book or story—but more so because that’s just the way my brain works.
So, when describing the landscape/creating the setting for the book, everything I see is filtered through the eyes of my characters. This is a huge plus in developing voice and for showing the character’s emotional journey, because the world the reader sees is from the perspective of the characters living in and experiencing it.
It may seem counterintuitive, since we work so hard at choosing just the right words when writing fiction, but one of my main goals during the editing phase is to make the words disappear on the page. I do this in such a way that the reader will forget she is reading, instead “seeing” the action in her head. While it sounds like a magic trick, it is in fact a fairly natural state for me. As a visual writer, I see the action as I write it. In fact, as I tell the people who ask me about my writing process, I often feel more like a journalist than a fiction writer, because I simply follow my characters around inside my head and write down what they do and say.
As a writer, one of the best things I can hear from a reader (aside from how much they loved the story and how much they want more) is that I made them late for work, or caused sleep deprivation because they stayed up all night finishing my book. The last thing I want to give them is the opportunity to set the book down to go do something else.
“Good writing is supposed to evoke sensation in the reader – not the fact that it’s raining, but the feel of being rained upon.” –E. L. Doctorow
Humans use five main senses, which are our key physiological capacities for data perception. However, in most early writing, there is a tendency to focus on only two of these, sight and sound and leaves a lot of opportunity to add sensory details.