How to Capture a Moment in Writing

Every day many things happen in our lives – you get up, you go to work, you visit friends, go to a birthday party or you board a plane to co on vacation. A walk in the woods can turn into an unexpected meeting or during your vacation you discover or do things that are totally new to you. For the first time you walk hand in hand in a new city with someone new and you ask yourself: what does it mean? You say your goodbyes to someone, not knowing when you will see them again.

Many moments fill a human life and those are the moments we want to capture in our stories, because it influences your writing in a positive way. Wherever you are, remember these tips to later capture the moments in your writing.

  1. Five senses
  2. Close your eyes and breathe
  3. See the details
  4. Create your moment
  5. What is your message?

Five senses

The five senses are: seeing, hearing, tasting, smelling and touching. Using these five senses, whether consciously or not, is the way in which you experience your surroundings. To start capturing your environment, you have to go through all the senses:

  • What do I see?
  • What do I hear?
  • What am I tasting?
  • What do I smell?
  • What do I feel?

These descriptions and details are the basis for all time descriptions. Sometimes they seem boring, but write them anyway. You can edit them later, but you can’t experience the moment again.

Close your eyes and breathe

The secret to experiencing the magic moment is to breath. Stop concentrating on every smell and every sound and just breathe the moment. Close your eyes and breathe. Each breath of air will give you a better feeing of the environment you want to describe. The best places to write about are those where you have really stood, where you have breathed and experienced your surroundings.

Wherever you are, never forget to close your eyes and breathe! Experience. Feel. This will help your writing!

See the details

Once you have breathed in your environment, open your eyes and see the details around you. The paper coasters under one leg of a table on a terrace. The woman sitting far away from anyone, hiding her face behind a huge hat and sunglasses. The waiter with the sad eyes, smiling and chatting to the customers as if he has no cares in the world. See the details!

However, when you write, be careful which details you use. Those you use should help to give a better image of the world you are creating in your writing. They have to help your reader to feel the environment you are creating. Remove confusing details. Use them in another story, where they fit better. The details you use must make your story stronger, not weaken it.

Create your moment

You’ve used your senses, you’ve breathed the moment and you’ve seen the details. Now it’s time to create your moment in writing. You can create moments that bring the reader some rest, but you can also create moments that leads to the first contact between your main characters. Make sure you create a setting for your readers, where you ‘show’ them the surroundings, make them feel the emotions between your characters. You build a scene, starting from zero and slowly picking up speed to lead to the crescendo. You can choose to pick up speed, slow down again and then quickening the pace once more. Every word you use is aimed at leading your reader to the climax of your story. Building a moment is just as important as capturing it. Sounds, smells and feelings mean nothing if they are not captured in such a way that they engage your reader.

What is your message?

A moment is only part of a bigger story, part of a message you want to convey. Whether you are telling the reader about driving into work and seeing the city from the bridge or walking the dog and hearing something in the woods, each moment you describe should hint to the bigger story. Your reader must feel something when he reads your moments; your hints. It must give him something he can recognize. Capturing a moment successfully is essential to connect your reader to your story.

Now get writing and capture those moments!

~ Marie Rebelle

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Loosely based on an article by The Writing Practice

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