Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Emergency Senses

What do you do when you forgot your Kindle during a trip to the ER? To be fair, I remembered MY
Kindle, but the patient didn't. So, I lent him mine to read the paper while we waited for ultrasound and the results of the ultrasound. Instead of reading, I took notes about all I could sense in the ER exam room. After scribbling six pages of sights, sounds, feelings, and smells, I realized that I had all I needed to immerse my readers in two scenes of my WIP. Writers are told that including at least three of the five senses will bring dimension to their scenes and draw readers in. Now I have a great list to use for this very real setting.

Did you know that the pediatric crash cart holding all the medicines has rainbow hued drawers? The colors are to separate the meds by weight of the patient. I've never noticed this before. If I had been reading, I wouldn't have noticed it this time. Or that there is a huge poster just to list all the possible average weights, blood pressures, heart rates, and respiration for children based on age?

Have you ever stopped and listened to all the sounds in an ER department? From the scuffing of soft soled shoes and disembodied voices in the hall to the ticking of the oxygen ports and swoosh of the blood pressure cuff, I was awash in a sea of input just through my ears. Add the feel of the squishy chair cushion and the breath of the air conditioning on the back of my neck and you have a real setting that will draw a reader in.

After this experience, I plan to set up a few on purpose trips to experience some settings for my WIP. The hospital cafeteria is next on the list. ; )

What about you? Do you ever just sit and take notes on your surroundings?
How do you find the details to add the five senses to your scenes?