(5 Tips for utilizing the senses in writing is a guest post by the awesome author Sara Francis as part of blog tour)
An important part of creative writing is making the reader feel like they are in the scene. We do that by describing elements that relate to our senses. In the scene, what does it smell like? What are the sounds, the sights? How does the character react to touch, to taste?
Sometimes, I know we forget that our characters have all the same senses that we do. Describing using all of them can bring the book to life. This short post offers 5 quick tips on how you can better utilize the senses as you write:
1) Go Out & Sense It
Whatever you’re trying to write about, go out and get the feel for it yourself! (As long as it is within legal and moral boundaries). Experience is the greatest inspiration. You may not be able to understand and experience everything you put your characters through, but do your best!
In my latest book “The Underground”, I tried to write about a cup of coffee. It was a tough thing to describe! That may seem crazy, but hear me out. There are times where we just drink our coffee and don’t even think about it. However, when I took time to sit and enjoy the coffee while focusing on what I was sensing, it improved how I was able to describe it!
Here is an example:
BEFORE SENSING IT: “Joshua listened quietly as he drank his morning coffee.”
AFTER SENSING: “Joshua cupped the warm ceramic mug with his calloused hands as he listened to the conversation. With nothing to say, he brought the cup to his lips to sip. The nutty aroma of Emel’s special brew filled his nostrils. His morning coffee was a simple routine, but it was his only comfort amidst his life of danger and paranoia.”
Crazy how taking time to drink a cup of coffee can change the way you write!
Not sure what something looks like? Sounds like? Google it! The internet is a great resource to give you instant answers when in a pinch. My favorite place to find inspiration is Pinterest. You can get lost in the information it holds and I can’t tell you how many times it has gotten me through writer’s block. Highly recommend creating a Pinterest account and start saving all sorts of articles, images, and quotes to help you push through the tough writing days!
Check out how other authors describe their scenes using their senses. They can help point you in the right direction as to how you want to deliver your message. Reading is the best research. Be sure to read the well-written books in the genre you are writing. If their writing style is a step above yours, that’s even better! You need to learn from others in order to grow.
4) Ask Around
If your MC wants to climb mount everest, it may be hard for you to go out and experience that yourself.
If you can’t figure out how to describe that smell or that feel and google isn’t helping, ask people in your network! Asking real individuals who understand your characters’ experiences is the best way to fill in any holes you have in describing something.
5) Use Stronger Words
What I mean by this is don’t write something like, “The alleyway smelled.” Yes, that’s using your senses, but it isn’t being very descriptive. Was it good? Was it bad? An example of a stronger word would be, “The alleyway had a putrid stench.” Adjectives are your friend so grab a thesaurus!
Like I said, the post was short and sweet but the points pack a punch. We sense things in many different ways which means the characters in your story do, too!
Don’t worry if you aren’t a master just from reading this post. Creating immersive scenes takes time and practice. You will get better with every word you write, so keep going! Utilize all of these tips to get the most realistic, creative, engaging story you can conjure.
Speaking of stories, I encourage you to check out my YA SciFi/Dystopian Trilogy “The Terra Testimonies”! The finale was released recently on 13th October 2020 and I am excited to share it with you! To celebrate the event, I am hosting a giveaway EXCLUSIVE to this blog tour! Be sure to enter HERE.
And check out my website for my books, free resources, and more! https://www.sara-francis.com
Author, Media Communicator, and Speaker
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