Besides the sweet plot and wonderful visuals, I realized that this video shows us what we do as authors. Our readers rely on us to be their senses – sight, sound, smell, touch, and taste. Without us and their narrator, readers cannot experience our stories and the themes we hope to share.
Out of Sight starts with a sound and the pawprints appear. Then the dog. Then the footsteps of the child leads to the child herself. Soon, we follow her as she encounters an expected turn of events that becomes a journey of discovery.
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. With the help of her stick, she can picture her world and make choices accordingly. The child, though, doesn’t just rely on her stick – she also uses her ears and her nose to make sense of what she can’t see.
We smell 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 its flippers. Though with our eyes we may see a jet, through her imagination, we are opened to a new possibility based on her point of view.
As writers, we have our own magic wand that we can use to paint the world, but the best writing also involves 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 know she’s becoming braver with each new experience and we are given hope that we can do the same with our own experiences.
The video challenges me to take stock of my own surroundings, to use my senses to describe my evening. It’s a blustery night, and the light flicker, threatening to fail completely. I hear the sound of small branches and pinecones striking the roof and the distant roar of wind moving through the trees farther up the hedge.
The room where I sit is warm for now, and I think about adding another blanket to my bed. I ponder the wisdom of finding batteries for my flashlight just in case. I wonder if I will lose my lights and bump around my home, 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.
Try it – in your writing notebook describe:
- One thing you see.
- Two things you smell.
- Three things you hear.
- Four things you are touching.
- Five things you have tasted today.