Ramona Richards

Ramona Richards started making stuff up at three, writing it down at seven, and selling it at eighteen. She’s been annoying editors ever since, which is probably why she became one. Twenty-five years later, she’s edited more than 350 publications, including novels, CD-ROMs, magazines, non-fiction, children’s books, Bibles, and study guides. Ramona has worked with such publishers as Thomas Nelson, Barbour, Howard, Harlequin, Ideals, and many others. The author of eight books, she’s now the fiction editor for Abingdon Press. An avid live music fan, Ramona loves living in the ongoing street party that is Nashville.

Track Changes

Fill My Senses

We live on the leash of our senses.
                                               Diane Ackerman

In the lyrics of his iconic “Annie’s Song,” John Denver tells his love that she fills his senses, then compares her love to experiencing different but lovely landscapes—a mountain, a seashore, a walk through a rain shower. Romantic . . . but what exactly does any of that really mean? How can love be like a forest, a storm, or an ocean?

Well, it depends on who’s doing the talking. Let’s take, for instance, two different versions of that stroll through falling water.

The rain drummed on my hunched shoulders, splashing my face and seeping deep through my already sodden clothes. I pulled my coat tighter around me, even though it was useless against the cold. My muscles ached as I dodged oil-laced puddles and thick streams that rushed into a storm drain. The pounding deluge released the stench of grease and decay, which emerged from the grate like a rising fog. “Oh, dear Lord,” I moaned. “Will this night never end?”

The rain danced on my shoulders, splashing my face with refreshing droplets that tickled my skin. I grinned, straightening my back as I hopped over puddles. Rainbows ebbed and flowed on their surfaces, caused by the oil freshly washed from the streets. The curbs overflowed with joyous streams pouring into drains with the sound of a spring waterfall. At the edge of the sidewalk, the first daffodils bowed and curtsied in the wind, a reminder of the changing season. “Thank you, Lord,” I said, “for the reminder that sun always follows the rain.”

The romantic in us (and most writers are terribly romantic at heart) loves to think that when comparing love to a walk in the rain, John meant something like the second one. But remember, John’s marriage to Annie didn’t last . . .

This is what we mean when we say, “Show, don’t tell.”

Engage Our Senses

Make your readers recall the scents of cinnamon and chocolate on Christmas morning. Help them see the crystallized water on an icy cold glass or how perfectly a patch of ferns glistens on a moonlit night. I grew up in the South and never once thought of our ground as “soft,” but a guy from the heart of Texas sure did. What does your heroine hear, smell, feel as she’s walking home from that date gone bad? How does that 600-count Egyptian cotton sheet feel on her skin the morning after her heart is broken?

Why does that last one matter? Why describe the feel of a sheet when her heart is screaming in pain?

Because it pulls the reader into her mind, her body, her experience. How can anything in the world be soft like that sheet, warm as a comforting quilt, or sweet as a robin’s song outside a window when the pain is crushing her soul?

Because it is. Because her senses won’t let her hide in her pain forever. They are part of the picture; they are part of her hope. And, handled correctly, they are a vital part of your work that will pull readers into your world and keep them turning the pages.