Well, it finally happened–the first big snowfall. We got over a foot of the white stuff yesterday, making trees beautiful, roads slippery (over 200 cars were involved accidents!) and my poor vehicle impossible to find on my driveway. The snow was thick and heavy and wet, perfect for building snow forts, ramps and snowmen.
I took my pooch for a walk in the stuff and she loved every minute of it, bounding down the trails like a miniature deer. When I got her home, she had so much wet snow stuck to her fur she reminded me of the Michelin Man’s dog! I should have taken a picture but I was too busy trying to thaw the snow off her in a sinkful of warm water.
Being out in the warm yet crisp air made me really think about how all the senses give texture to our surroundings. With each step I noticed how the snowflakes felt as they hit my cheeks and melted, how the snow packed unevenly under my boots as I broke a trail, how the flakes made a dry pelting sound as they hit the fabric of my parka.
I also realized how all of this sensory information is processed through a filter of mood. Had I been in a bad one, the trail I had to break in the field would have angered me, like the snow was fighting me every step of the way, draining my strength as it clumped to my boots and soaked through my pant legs. Snow dripping down my face and on my glasses would have been a nuisance, prodding me to move faster, to hurry my dog along so I could get the whole thing over with. The sound of the snow hitting my jacket would make me feel isolated and possibly even stupid for being out there in the first place–who else would have chosen such a day to walk their dog?
Thankfully I was in a good mood, and I enjoyed the walk as much as the pooch. The trek made a good reminder that when I write, I need to slant the setting not only through the POV character’s senses, but also their current state of mind. There’s a big difference between showing a setting as it is, and showing it as it feels. Interpretation through mood adds an extra layer of texture to any scene.
Have you gone on any good walks lately?
Becca Puglisi is an international speaker, writing coach, and bestselling author of The Emotion Thesaurus and its sequels. Her books are available in five languages, are sourced by US universities, and are used by novelists, screenwriters, editors, and psychologists around the world. She is passionate about learning and sharing her knowledge with others through her Writers Helping Writers blog and via One Stop For Writers—a powerhouse online library created to help writers elevate their storytelling.