Thursday, January 22, 2015

The use of the Senses

by C. Michelle Jefferies

I was proof reading a short novelette type book about setting, description and voice for a friend yesterday, and she mentioned something that I think most of us authors take for granted in our own writing.

The senses.

We are a nation of TV watchers. and when watching TV we are limited to mostly the visual experience. We tend to forget the other senses because of this. Pretty much every beginning writer sticks to an almost exclusive visual experience in their stories. While seeing things isn't forbidden, it lessens the readers experience and makes the characters and scenes flat.

Using the five senses broadens the realm of our characters experience, and deepens the resonance between the reader and the story.


The sense of smell is more powerful in bringing up memories than any of the other senses. What do you think of when you smell the scent of sugar cookies? Baking for Christmas? Or charcoal briquettes? A summertime barbecue?  Did you know that tasting sugar has a similar effect on your brain as taking a hit of cocaine? How can you use that in deepening your character? Don't forget hearing an touch as well.  Touch also includes how a character reacts to temperature and the physical effects such as a shudder or goose bumps.

Do yourself a favor, whether you are a beginning writer or a seasoned author. Take the time to go through your stories and do a five senses sweep in your editing process. I promise you that it will make your writing better.

Enjoy those cookies

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