Friday, September 3, 2010

The 5 Senses

All we have as writers are words. Yup...swear to you-know-who. We don't have the visual of painters, the movement of movie directors, the tastes of chefs, or the touch of fabric makers.

Nope. But, like any true artist, our medium of paper and words can evoke anything we want...if we do it right. Admit it, you've read that scene where your heart hitched from the pain, you cried for the loss, or you laughed because the imagery those words created. The emotion. It evoked something.

Writer's who understand what they have to mold their words from, can do amazing things. Those writers who truly infuse the human experience into their work create a world that the reader gets lost in. What makes up a large part of human experience? The 5 senses. Those senses need to back up the scene. Sight, hearing, taste, touch, and smell. You don't need all in every moment, but try to get at least 2 to 3.

Don't just have the break up and the feelings that go with it. Infuse the world he/she is in as they're breaking up. Example:

Uh...okay. That's sad. But... that is much better. You've got the sights of the lake, BBQ, and the kids. There's the sounds of the water and laughter. There the tangible touch of her biting her lip. I didn't overload the moment with too many senses, just zoned in on what surrounding pieces of Joan's world would help evoke the feelings I wanted between Joan and Davie's dynamic. For instance, I didn't falsify the moment with a touch between the two who'd just broken apart.

Just a little spice goes a long way. So, go through your draft and highlight areas that could be detailed out. You'd be surprised how 3 dimensional your story becomes and it give the reader a chance to really step into the role of your characters.

Good writing all!
The roughness in his voice - telling her he'd fallen out of love - rung with the truth of it. Her vision blurred with tears. She bit her lower lip to keep it from trembling. The water lapped up on shore, out of rhythm with her breaking heart. Joan looked out, across the lake where the family BBQ continued. Her children ran along the muddy shore, laughing and hollering. How could she tell them? How could Davie tell her on this day, their anniversary?

Joan's heart broke when Davie told her he didn't love her


  1. Awesome example Amber. Well done. The five senses are a great way to learn how to evoke emotion.

    Moderator Steph from
    Desert Breeze

  2. And if you can't do all five, at least try to include the lesser-used ones (scent, touch, taste). I know that I normally stick with sight and sometimes sound.

    Ahh, humans, we're such sensists!

  3. This is so important, isn't it? LOL, I suspect you know what a fan of 5 sense description I am :)

    Angela @ The Bookshelf Muse

  4. Thanks all!

    LOL, Angela...oh I know it. I'm always on your site seeing what senses I overlooked, which I can add to a scene.