11/15/2010

Writing with Sound and Scent

A friend posted this video on Facebook today:



Besides the sweet plot and wonderful visuals, I realized that this is the way to write.

You start with a sound and the pawprints appear. Then the dog. Then the footsteps of the child leads to the child herself.

As writers we have a magic wand we can use to paint the world, but the best writing begins in sound and scent. There's very little dialogue in this piece, yet the narration is incredibly strong. We know what the girl is feeling because the world she's inhabiting is slowly revealed as she touches the wand and makes the sound of a metal fence or the glass from a bakery store window.

We scent the bread, the woman's perfume, and the man's pipe. We're stunned by the sudden sound of the bus and the jet overhead. She imagines a whale swimming, beating the air with it's flippers.

The plot moves because she is searching for her dog, but she continually engages with her world through the stick she has found. She is a self-contained child, frightened but determined to find Coco.

So much to learn from this video. What a great way to end a blustery night at home, the lights flickering, just threatening to fail completely, the sound of small branches and pine cones striking the roof, the distant roar of wind moving through the trees farther up the hedge. The room is warm and I think about needing to find batteries for the flashlights just in case. I wonder what the night will bring, but I realize that if I can hear and smell, I'll know nearly as much, or perhaps more, than my eyes would tell me.