No doubt at one time in your life you encountered an artistically-composed photograph or painting that deeply resonated with you. You may have only looked at the portrait for thirty seconds but it felt like you completely lost track of time as conjured emotions and memories swirled across your mind’s eye.
Something similar happened to me a few days ago while driving and listening to the song And You and I from the album The Ultimate Yes – 35th Anniversary Collection. At the 0:07 mark I heard an acoustic guitar arpeggio – low E, A, D, G, B, and E. This got me thinking about my own experiences playing an acoustic guitar, specifically holding the guitar firmly against my body and feeling the resonance within my chest.
Now if you’ve ever played an acoustic guitar, you completely understand and can feel the words of that last sentence resonate in your own chest. But if not, likely you still appreciate the words on the page without any sort of emotional connection.
Upon having this realization, it hit me why I’m not enjoying a current fiction novel I’m in the middle of reading. Basically there aren’t any details in the entire novel I can relate to, specifically whenever we (the readers) are sitting and traveling in one of the protagonist’s vintage collector cars. All we’re told is “the car started” or “we pulled out onto the road” or “the motor growled as we picked up speed.”
As a “car guy” this upsets me. Where’s the gurgling of the exhaust or the chatter of the door handle or the sun glimmer off the chrome clock bezel for such a key aspect—the cars—to the story? It may be a 1968 Aston Martin DB6 I’m traveling in, but the words on the page are conjuring images of a more modern, tame car – like I’m a passenger in my neighbor’s Toyota Corolla!
My takeaway in these recent experiences is that I’m not going to hesitate adding in specific sensory details that may only appeal to a small handful of my readers. If it’s interesting to me, I’ll add it with hopes it will strike a chord with a small percentage of my readers.