I just finished reading Traci Hunter Abramson's novel, "The Deep End," and while there are many things she "did right," the writing tool I'd like to discuss here is "Details."
As I said in an earlier post, "god"--ultimate power and influence over our readers--is in the details. Don't believe me? Try this test: Pull out your favorite novel, flip to a beloved scene, perhaps one you've read and reread dozens of times, and see how many sensual (sight, sound, taste, touch, etc) details the author gave you as they painted that scene for you. I'll wager there are a lot. That's because the best way to bring characters/scenes to life is to infuse them with details.
Since Abramson did such a good job with her details, especially those related to swimming, I thought I'd add a few of them here as an example:
From the last paragraph of her prologue:
"Excruciating pain filled his ears as he struggled upward. Logically, he knew that his body couldn't handle the rapid ascent, but panic and survival instinct took over. He even managed to delude himself that maybe he could survive after all, since the only pain was in his ears and sinuses rather than his chest. He held his breath, his head now throbbing as a tingling sensation crept along his skin. . . "
From page 151:
"When the comand came to take her mark, she gripped the font of the starting block and every muscle in her body tensed. At the starting buzzer, her body responded instinctively, stretching out over the water in a racing dive. The shock of the cold water enveloped her and she moved through the water with rapid dophin kicks. . . ."
And near the end:
"With a silent prayer and a rush of adrenaline, she reached up, wrapped her fingers around the doorknob of the adjoining closet, and burst out into the hallway. . . The shout behind her didn't slow her down, nor did the approaching footsteps. Then a gunshot echoed . . ."
Abramson used "taste" throughout her book, too, for CJ (her main character) is more than an olympic swimmer; she's also a cook. I'm still wishing I could ask her for her blueberry scones recipe.