Until you’ve lived in the desert, you can’t really appreciate the little things. Last night, I was lying in bed and there was a rumbling in the distance. Rumblings over here in Iraq is usually a bad thing but I laid there and listened. Then the sweetest sound filled the little metal connex that is my living quarters. Rain started tapping on the roof, first a few drops and then a downpour. It only lasted a few minutes but the sound, the beautiful sound of rain hitting the roof was pure heaven. This morning when I walked outside, there was moisture in the air. The smell was instantly reminiscent of any morning back in the states after a night time deluge. The ground was wet, the air cool and crisp like fall. For a moment, I simply stood and breathed in the smell of something other than dirty, dusty air. Too often, we as writers get bogged down in describing a scene. For me, most of my readers will have never been to Fort Hood, so I find myself describing things and places that I take for granted. I get lost in the detail and on the reread, my CP always asks me: what’s important here. What does my reader need to know to anchor her in the scene. So just like this morning, when the smell of the rain was what I focused on, when I’m writing, I try to focus on the highlights. What’s the overwhelming sensation you’ll have in a bakery? Homemade scents. What about a flower shop? Bursts of color. When you’re describing a scene, don’t tell me about the shrubs unless it’s part of a bigger picture. Give me enough detail to anchor me there but not too much that I’d be skipping ahead to find out what happens next. But what was unique about the homemade scents in a bakery? Nothing. The reader expects it. What if you focused on the sounds of cooking? The clanging of pans from the back? Something different, right? Learn to describe the smell of the rain. The sound of it. Your reader expects you to tell her it’s wet. Find something different, something unexpected about the setting that makes your world yours and sets you apart from the other writers on the shelf to the left and right of it.