Stop, I wanted to tell the author. Let me stay with that feeling. Don't rush by it. This is the punch to the gut you want to deliver. Swing through -- don't just jab.
In his book, Writing Life Stories, Bill Roorbach talks about "cracking open" a scene in creative nonfiction: "look for a sentence (or even a phrase) of voice-over or other exposition that condenses or skims over or rushes past a possible scene." Build it into scene, he says.
So how can you slow it down?
First, stop and smell the roses. Look at their color. Note how the thorns prick your fingers. Listen to the insects chirping in the garden. Not sure you'd want to chew on any petals, so taste might be a stretch, but there are those rose hips to pluck and bite in the fall. Why yes, I am talking about the five senses. They're a good checklist any time you want to flesh out a scene. Don't forget action, either. He didn't just walk across the room; he kicked a teddy bear out of the way, set his coffee cup on the piano and exhaled a long sigh.
Where are YOU?
John Calderazzo for a time (he'll be at the Wyoming Writers, Inc. conference in June). His challenge to me was always, "Where are YOU in this scene." He never let me off the hook. Where are you or your character in the scene emotionally? Sometimes, leaving the personal emotion out is mere oversight. Sometimes it is discomfort or even fear. Either way, I need to be aware of what I am (not) doing.
Of course, do as I say...
... not as I do. I'm notorious for not following my own advice. You know what they say about free advice: worth every penny. I am sure I will blitz right by the moment unless I remind myself not to. That's one of the great things about critiquing. I see that sawdust in your eye and become more aware of the plank sticking out of mine.
How about you? How do you stay in those powerful moments when you write?