On Monday Mike and I watched the last of the “Treasures of the Indus” documentaries on BBC4. A couple of years ago we’d been to the Taj Mahal, Agra, the Palace of the Winds and many of the other places featured and what interested me was the difference between being there and seeing it on film. Of course the two can’t compare, but what came across to me was the lack of atmosphere.
Visiting the Taj was one of the most amazing things I’d ever done. Expecting it to be beautiful, but little more than a tourist attraction I was struck by the spirituality of the place. It felt holy and revered in spite of the crowds of people. The attitude of the people who had come to see it, the falling dusk, the warm Indian night all contributed to this. It was the culmination of what was seen, heard, felt and the smells that made it such a profound experience.
The relevance to writing is obvious. To make a piece live writers must use their senses so that the reader can have a true feeling of what it is like to be there.