Hearing the stories of others helps us make an emotional connection with them. That’s why so many powerful presenters use stories as a way to engage with their audience. Neuroscientists have also found that hearing or reading stories also stimulates specific regions of the brain connected with the words used: for example, words like ‘lavender’ and ‘soap’ elicit responses from areas of our brain devoted to dealing with smells. Good stories evoke our sense memories. Sometimes in writing groups, I bring in objects designed to do just that: a tin of lavender shoe polish can summon up memories of school days and polished convent floors; mint sweets evokes memories of visits to the sweet shop as a child; a ball of wool may recall early attempts at knitting.
What are the things that never fail to evoke sense memories for you? The crunch of autumn leaves underfoot? The taste of home made apple pie? The sight of baby shoes? What is the memory that you recall? What is the story? Now try writing it.