I love sweeping landscapes, stunning cityscapes, and monstrous monsters. I love grand-scale wonder that, if I were to be exposed to it today, would shock my socks off (don’t worry, they’re freshly washed). Seeing the pyramids or the Grand Canyon in person will give you all the feelings associated with just the sheer awesomeness of it all. But what about your readers? They deserve to feel the same way while experiencing the new and unique creators, places, and buildings that make up your novel’s world.
How do you, the author, go about creating wonder at your breathtaking vistas, beautiful and archaic architecture, or gigantic creatures? Here are just a couple of ways to go about it.
- Through the Eyes of Others
For the people living in your novel’s world, many things will be normal to them that would scare the pants off anyone else. Towering lizards or an ocean of methane might be a complete shock to the reader, but are normal, every day occurrences for your characters and those living in the area.
That’s where other characters come in handy. Bring in someone who has never seen anything like it before. This could be a traveller from a distant country, a child, or even your main point of view. Working with a local, the juxtoposition of the two viewpoints (“wow this is awesome!” vs “I see this blasted thing every day…”) will show just how extraordinary a certain something is.
According to Writing Excuses, having your main character “bask” in in the moment, or how long they linger on it, will help us gauge the importance of whatever it is they’re looking at. Likewise, the words used to describe said object will also play an important role in how it is viewed.
For example, if there’s a little critter in your living room, you might describe it as simply “a small rodent.” Nothing too important about this creature, is there?
However, if you explain it differently, this creature will suddenly become more interesting to the reader.
“The small rodent sniffed around the floor, its tattered ears drooping past its beady, red eyes.”
Now this is a rodent with a history, and what’s more, it creates a sense of wonder in the reader. What’s up with this critter? What is it looking for? Is it going to attack our main character?
The same thing applies with objects, locations, and anything else that’s out of the norm (or would be for the character involved).
At the beginning, I mentioned huge creatures and stunning landscapes and other great and marvelous things, instilling a sense of wonder within your reader doesn’t just have to be with large things. The little rodent mentioned above is just one example. Coins or food or somebody’s hairstyle could all be made wondrous just by how you portray it.
Of course, there are certainly other ways to invoke wonder within your reader. These are just two. Experiment with these or find a different method that works for you. Now go out there and bring a sense of wonder to the world!
What method do you use to create a sense of wonder? Let me know in the comments!