SEE IT SMELL IT TASTE IT HEAR IT FEEL IT

Here are some notes from my workshop on incorporating the five senses into your story to make it real to the reader.
Remember, this is the short version. If you are interested in having me teach this session at a writer's conference or workshop, please contact me.

The five senses - sight, sound, scent, taste, and touch- we’re always told as writers to use the five senses, but that can be a really daunting task. When do to do this, and when do we not? 

 The purpose of writing using the five senses is to draw the reader more into the story so they can relate and experience what is happening with the character, instead of just being told what is happening and in a reader-like perspective, to just watch. Sharing the five senses from the character's perspective helps the reader bond with your character more personally, and this helps make the story real to them.

 Sight – when you see something, what’s the first thing that registers? Attractive/ugly  - light/dark - a plethora of things. The better your description, then the more the reader can relate to what your character is seeing, and that will help make the story real

 Sound –  when you hear something, what’s the first thing that registers?  Loud/soft  - Pleasant/unpleasant - again there can be many things. If this is a sound that the reader has heard before, you are introducing a commonality that helps the reader relate to the experience of your character,

 Scent – There are so many scents in the world, and usually our first thought is, is it good or bad. Then the next is what else it smells like, which can open up many past memories, and... introduce backstory, which helps us learn a bit about our characters.

 Taste - Again, the first thing we think when we taste something, is it good or bad - sweet or bitter, and sometimes even, is it healthy versus fattening.  also can tell a reader a lot about the character who is experiencing those thoughts - and relate to them as a person.

Touch – First, is it pleasurable or painful? Or maybe, is it hot or cold? There are many ways we think of things as we touch them. But again the bottom line is, how is the character thinking as they touch things, what memories does it evoke, and then, relate this to your reader.

These are some of the ways you can use the five senses to help your reader relate to your characters. There are also many ways to use the five senses draw your reader into the setting. You want to use these techniques to draw your reader in, but at the same time, don't suffocate them in sensory overload or drown them in details. Know how much, or how little, balanced with what is happening in your scene.

Good luck and happy writing.

Click here to go back to Gail Sattler's page for writers.