A memory conceived among many senses will not be easily forgotten. The goal of communication is to deliver a message to a recipient in a way that it can be received and comprehended, but I think communication should go beyond that. We should communicate to be remembered. If it’s worth saying, it’s worth remembering.
Memories are more than words and concepts, they are life experiences. Try thinking of an emotional event in your, life like an argument with a close friend. You probably remember it more in terms of how you felt than the words that were said.
Have you ever gotten sick while eating a certain food? Once, when I was a teenager, I got extremely intoxicated. I was so out of control that my mother gave me a bath and I didn’t know it. That’s probably a good thing. I still have no memory of what happened to me that night, but I remember how I felt. For years the smell of any alcohol would make me sick. The reason I remember it so well is because the event is tied to several senses – smell, taste, touch, etc.
I’ve had many opportunities throughout my life to speak before various groups. I’ve spoke at churches, community settings, in front of children and adults. I enjoy speaking and writing, and helping others understand things. When I speak to a group, I try to employ methods that will touch as many senses as possible. I was speaking some years back on the topic of sharing and half-way through my speech I had a pizza delivered to the podium. I stopped for a moment, paid for the pizza, picked up a slice, took a few bites, and began speaking again. Seven years later someone approached me and said, “Hey I remember that time you spoke, and gave me a slice of pizza”. Why did they remember? Because they heard, they saw, they touched, they tasted, and they could smell what I was saying.
This same principle applies to us as authors. You may not be there when the reader picks up your piece, but you can trigger memories they’ve stored away. Don’t just tell them what happened; drop your reader smack dab in the middle of a scene. Let them experience your writing through their memories.