Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Use of the Senses in Writing

Today, I'll touch on use of the five senses in your writing. This is one of the easiest ways to draw a reader into your scenes, and you should try to have as many of the senses as possible in each scene without bogging down your writing. To review, the five senses are:


You'll do a lot of describing in your scenes (but remember not to overdo it - keep it to major basics, and trust your reader to fill in the smaller blanks herself), so your reader will "see" what your characters do. What about the other senses? Sound is easily introduced: the clink of glasses in a bar, the boom of a stereo, the murmur of a crowd, dialogue. Touch comes in when your character burns her fingertips on a hot plate, for instance, and is especially important in love scenes, for you romance writers! Taste is a great way to set a scene, especially one that involves food. Smell has been called the most vivid of our senses. Think about catching a whiff of cologne you haven't smelled in years, and the instant recall it conjures up of old memories. Perfume, flowers, food, fresh-cut grass - use it anywhere you can.

Unpleasant senses are a great way to draw your reader into a scene, too. The reek of garbage, the sour taste of bile, etc. If your character isn't having a good time in that scene, get us in there by putting those icky senses around us, and we'll hate it just has much as your fearless hero does.

Remember not to load your scenes up so much with every single sense that you lose your pacing. Use the senses when necessary and logical - but be sure to use them.

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