Writing from the Senses

Writing-ChallengesReaders don’t want only to see. They want to see, hear, feel, taste and smell. For example, have you ever read a story where the hero trekked across a scorching desert? What if it went something like this?

William was near death, face first in the sand. His stubborn camel wouldn’t let him near the water flask strapped to the saddle. As she trots off, he cries, “Wait.”

So? Do you care about William? I don’t. What would adding sensory details do to improve this story?

William’s lips sting. Licking them only leaves the flavor of salt and blood on his tongue. He rolls onto his stomach and lifts his gaze to the glimmering horizon. Lulu,that idiot camel, taunts him again with the water flask strapped to her side. Always in sight, but always out of reach. She shakes off a cloud of buzzing flies. The saddle shimmies, tipping the flask sideways. Drip… drip… the water evaporates the instant it touches the sand. Lulu clomps down the next dune. “Wait,” William starts at his own raspy voice. He pushes up from the ground, stomach turning at the stench of his own filth. He stumbles forward two steps.

Next thing you know, your cell phone vibrates on the table. You look up from your book, surprised to see the blizzard outside your window. That’s what including all the senses in your writing can do for your reader – temporary transportation into another place and time. It increases emotional impact, and sets a mood.

How do you effectively incorporate the senses into your writing? Here is simple and editable chart I use for each scene I write:

SENSES WORKSHEET  (Right click and press “Save Link As…”)

This brings us to Scribbleweed’s FIRST EVER WRITING CHALLENGE!

Take ten minutes to observe your literal or imaginary surroundings. Jot down notes as you experience the atmosphere. Is there anything that seems out of place? Write a short piece, 300 words or less, that touches on all five of the senses.

Be brave. Post your story for all to adore. Writing Challenge #1 – Writing from the Senses.


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