I looked out this morning and the sun was gone
Turned on some music to start my day
I lost myself in a familiar song
I closed my eyes and I slipped away
“More than a Feeling” – Boston.
(You’re welcome for the earworm)
I’m sure this has happened to you – it happened to me just now:
You sit down to do something, and put on a bit of music (for me, it’s *always* music), for a bit of background, and something comes on that just grabs you by the face and forces you to focus on that.
Usually it’s something that hasn’t come up on the playlist for a while – it’s pretty obvious what it was for me this morning.
Coincidentally, I think it perfectly illustrates my point. The singer is in the middle of “Other Stuff.” Then he turns on some music and loses himself in a familiar song. He closes his eyes and drifts away. Doing the “Other Stuff” has been completely derailed, if only temporarily.
It doesn’t have to be music. It can be a sound, a sight, a particular smell, a taste (Those last two can be particularly potent) that trigger a memory.
This can be the ideal place to introduce some of a character’s backstory into a scene. The character encounters something that forces them to pause and savor (or process, or suppress) something from their past. At the very least, it can help them become more real to your reader, particularly if your reader has a similar attitude toward whatever it was.
Now if that memory is something that’s going to become relevant later on in the story, you’ve just added a bit of subtle foreshadowing.
Your characters don’t move through their world in a vacuum – even if the story takes place in Space. They, like you and I, have a complex relationship with their environment, their senses, and their memories. Most of the time, those interactions are so common as to be instantly forgettable.
Sometimes they aren’t.
Thanks for reading.
Be safe out there. Be Excellent to Each other – and yourself.
I’ll see you on Thursday.
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