Writers are told to write for and with all of their senses. How does a character feel? What do they smell? What does she see in front of and behind her? What does he hear in her voice? What does she taste as she wakes? The five senses can make your character jump off the page but no more so than the landscape of your story.
With “Shrouded in Pompei,” I have introduced the Mickey Malone Mysteries. She’s a no-nonsense, street-wise, well-traveled news reporter. The world is her newsroom. So it was crucial that I make the world come alive for the reader. Let the reader explore, feel, enjoy Mickey’s world as she travels.
Mickey moves through Naples for the first half of the plot, enjoying the beauty of Sorrento and the Amalfi Coast while getting lost in the dark, funky underbelly of the heart of old Naples. The sweet scent of the springtime air carries the perfume of orange blossoms and jasmine along the coast. It’s a sharp contrast to the stench of fetid cat feces on the garbage strewn streets of Naples’ Spanish Quarter.
I marvel at writers who are rooted in their little nook, seemingly for life, creating a world out of pure imagination without experiencing the places they write about. I don’t know how they can do it. It is your job to lure readers into a new world and take them to unexplored heights or descend into the bowels of hell.
For the Mickey Malone Mysteries, the visual poetry of the landscape is as much a character as the men and women who pepper the plot of crime and mystery across this wide world. If you’re a writer, don’t ignore the world around you as you create the world within. There is so much color, depth of life and sensorial expression that sits at the dark end of an alley or along the faraway beach, go there. Make the world jump off your pages.