Honeysuckle, Fireflies, and Time Travel: It's the Little Things that Count

Great fiction can transport us, not always through its clever plotting or dynamic characters, but often through the perfect, well-placed sensory detail--some unexpected image, sound, or scent that lights up our synapses. I've been reminded of this lately, by the sweetly-subtle scent of mimosa blossoms and honeysuckle on a recent neighborhood walk, by a friend and author's offhand Facebook mention of her children chasing fireflies. Those little sensory details combined to pluck a hidden string in my mind, transporting me back to the shade of my grandparents' huge pines and maples, to the sweet, wet dew on my bare feet on a summer's night, to my sister's and brother's laughter and my parents' and grandparents' smiles from the front porch rockers as they watched us race about the grassy creekside lawn competing to capture lightning in a bottle. This is why the best writing feels like a homecoming. Though the characters and situation may be novel (no pun intended), it is the use of universal detail that forges the bond between the author and the audience, that brings the tale to vivid life inside the reader's head.
What unexpected detail has illuminated your fiction today? Image from website A Day in the Smokies.


Barbara Sissel said…
Love this post, Colleen. Takes me back to my childhood, too. I miss fireflies and my mom calling me in for dinner. I don't think I appreciated that enough! Thanks for sharing....
Thanks so much! I don't know if you've ever read Ray Bradbury's work, but he's an author who always does this for me. And Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird. Some authors have the power to make you nostalgic for what you've never experienced. It's quite a talent.
Lark Howard said…
Lovely post, Colleen.

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