One Writer’s Journey

October 17, 2017

5 Senses: Use As Many As Possible When You Write

One of the things that Darcy Pattison has writers do in her Novel Metamorphosis workshop is to catalog sensory perceptions for a particular scene.  Don’t be satisfied with 3 or 4 details total. Darcy asks you to come up with 3 details per sense per scene.

Why so many?  Sensory details make your writing more realistic. They help pull your reader into the story.

The problem is that people are good at seeing and sometimes at hearing.  Smelling and tasting?  It depends on the scene since it is easy to include smell and taste at a meal or smell in a flower garden, but not so easy when walking down a corridor.

The importance of writing with the senses was again emphasized when I read “Using Physicality to Bring Your Characters (And Your Fiction) to Life.” Joan Dempsey wrote this guest post for the Writer’s Digest blog.  Dempsey explains that using specific sensory perceptions make the characters seem more real because they sense the same things we sense. They can also be a great way to demonstrate character emotion without saying “Hillary was mad.”  “Eddie was happy.”

In my WIP, I know I’ve worked in plenty of visual detail.  That one tends to be easy for me. We writers tend to describe various characters visually including details on height, build and hair color.  And I’ve also included visual details about the scenery. My character is in the mountains and I note the things that she sees.

Beyond that, I know I’ve worked in some sounds.  There’s wind.  There rock grinding on rock.  And there are foot falls not to mention an unfamiliar language.

But I need to do more with touch.  I have some information about temperature, but that’s it.  And given the fact that she slides down a rocky incline, that just won’t do!

As always, taste and smell are going to be tough. I know what I can do for smell but taste?  That one is going to require some thought.  But it will be worth the effort.  Because working in these details will help bring my characters, setting and story to life for my readers.




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