Using All Five Senses to Round out Your Scenes

five-sensesWe all know the five senses we experience the world with. But all too often we leave the majority of these senses unwritten on the page when we write. Imagery is crucial to immerse your readers into your story world, so why do we neglect it? Visual imagery come naturally to us when we write, imagery even has image in it, but what about sounds, smells, tastes, and what we feel? Enrich your scenes by including all five senses.

Use all five senses to show and not tell the emotions and actions of each scene. And to set the mood for each scene. Is there a savage storm going on with the booming crash of thunder and the piercing flash of lightning? Or is there a crackling fire in the hearth and the smell of vanilla and cinnamon wafting in from the kitchen? Can you feel the icy touch of the downpour, or the soft, warm kiss of the fire as you pull your downy sweater closer? Does the aftertaste of cigarettes and coffee after another all-nighter fill your mouth, or the savory and exotic flavors of your favorite curry? Instead of telling that your character is scared, show the damp feeling of sweat on her neck and the feeling of her hair rising on end. Instead of saying he’s angry, show the rush of heat to his face, the feeling of his nails digging into his palms as he squeezes his hands closed.

Here is an example of a scene with normal description:

Laura stepped into the park and let out a sigh of relief. The trees that grew along the borders of the park seemed to welcome her, bowing their heavy heads towards her. A group of children climbed and scampered over the jungle gym while a pair of teenagers sat on the swings talking. Laura was so calm she didn’t even notice the men sneaking up behind her.

And now with more senses added:

gr8effect / Pixabay

Laura stepped into the park and let out a sigh of relief. The smells of autumn and crisp air greeted her. The trees that grew along the border of the park were already changing, kissed with orange, yellow, and red. They seemed to welcome her, bowing their heavy heads as they rustled in the cool breeze that blew the hair off her neck, giving her goosebumps. The leaves whispered to her as she looked around. A group of children climbed and scampered over the jungle gym, their shrieks of joy echoing through the park. A pair of teenagers sat on the creaky swings talking. Laura was so calm she didn’t even notice the men sneaking up behind her. Not even the telltale snap of a twig cracking beneath their feet.

The only sense I didn’t include was taste, since that wasn’t really applicable here. Be sure to use each sense to really round out the scene and bring it to life. Which sense is hardest for you to write or remember to write? Comment below and happy writing!

Julia

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Use each sense to really round out the scene and bring it to life. @hijinkswriter #writingtips… Click To Tweet
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J.K. Allen

Columnist/Illustrator at Our Write Side/OWS Ink, LLC
Julia Allen received her BA in Creative Writing and English from Michigan State University. She did her senior thesis in poetry under the tutelage of Diane Wakoski, but has been focused primarily on fiction as of late. Common writing themes that can be found in her work address identity and the type of strength that can be found in ordinary people. Julia is currently working on a Young Adult fantasy novel and can be found at local cafes in her hometown when writing, and painting, drawing, or reading when not.
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