Use your senses to unlock a story
Using the senses is so important in writing that bestselling romance writer LaVryle Spencer used to have an index card naming the five senses taped to her computer.
Most writers easily turn out the visual sense in their writing. The majority do a good job of adding dialogue and other auditory sensory input. Two senses are okay but the magic begins when you add the remaining senses. They moves a scene from ho-hum to aha! The reader becomes more grounded int the fictional world and moves deeper into the character.
Name the five senses
So we all know the first two: see and hear. The remaining senses are touch, taste, and smell. Smell is a wonderful sense and is capable of evoking strong memories. Touch and taste are the two senses that seem to get the least attention. Your mission in this exercise is to use the photo below to propel you into a scene where you unlock ALL five senses.
Gather your writing tools
Thankfully, you don’t require much to do this exercise. A fun kitchen timer adds to the writing experience. So, grab a pen and paper, open a journal or composition book, or create a new computer file. Set that timer for 5 minutes. Don’t have a timer? Try the one on the oven or use a smart phone app.
Immerse yourself into the scene
I’ve found the best way to to ratchet up the sensory element of a scene is by way of immersion. Take a few moments and relax. Stare at the photo and allow yourself to sink into the water. Feel, taste, see, hear and smell what’s it like to be in that water. Set the timer, begin to write and don’t stop.
1-2-3 Go – Head to the finish line
Start writing and don’t start. Stay in the scene, in the moment. Allow your imagination to propel you into the scene and the story. What is your character doing? Why? Stay in character and write to the end. Let the sensory details come through your writing.
Don’t stop to reread, edit, or question. Head for the middle and capture an end. (Scroll down for the after-writing process.)
Time’s up. Go ahead and read what you wrote. Don’t make any changes. You might even want to read through the following questions, then write about the results of the writing.
Read and reflect
- How do you feel? Make note of any sensory details you’re experiencing.
- Describe what it felt like to go through the scene with your character.
- How many senses were you able to bring into the exercise?
- Do you have a beginning, middle, and an end to a scene?
- How did the writing go? Was it easy or bumpy?
- Can you use this bit of writing in your current project or use it to shape a new story?
- Did you have any problems doing the exercise? In what way?
- Do you plan to add more sensory details to your writing?
That’s it. You can stop now or expand what you’re written. I hope you’ll comment below and share your thoughts. Feel free to use any Friday Sprint exercise any time.
- Link: Ten books for writers to read this summer
- Ready to read the classics? Join The Classics Club. My 5 year 50+ booklist is here: The Classics Club project.