Friday, March 20, 2009

Using Your Senses

As a writer, it's important to use all your senses when you're writing, whether it's dialog, a scene, or backstory. We have six senses: sight, smell, taste, sound, touch, and kinesthetic (the feeling inside of our muscles).

Unfortunately, we too often rely on only sight and forget about the other senses. In order to draw our readers into our story, they need to smell what our protagonist smells. Is he in the woods? Does he smell the damp earth, the aromatic cedar or the musky odor of an animal he follows?

How do you describe food in your story? Is your heroine dining out with someone she has under surveillance? What is she eating? Can your reader taste the garlic, mushrooms and olive oil smothering her angel hair pasta?

What sounds does a small child lost in the big city hear? Is she frightened by the honking of the cars, the wailing of a siren or angry words shouted by a mob listening to a soap box activist?

How does the silk feel as your hero undresses his lady? What about the rough fabric of the homespun cotton shirt he has discarded in his haste?

What does your antagonist feel as he battles his way out of a trap set by your hero. Are his muscles aching and burning with the strain of wielding a heavy sword?

Consider all the senses when you're writing and your story will come alive for your reader. Leave them out of the story, and it will be a dull, boring read. Happy writing.

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