Today’s prompt is the word ‘sense’, from Lindaghill’s awesome Stream of Consciousness Saturday, a.k.a SoCS. I decided to apply this to sense in writing, particularly the five senses.
We experience the world through our five senses. We see the world through our lens, our eyes. Sometimes quite literally through a pair of lenses. We smell food, candles and perfume. We taste an array of flavours: spicy, salty, sweet. We touch surfaces that are soft, rough, scratchy, silky. And we hear music, words and nature all around us.
In each of these experiences, we perceive and apply meaning. The same occurs in writing. Drawing on the five senses in creative writing gives the story and writing itself its own flavour, richness and quality.
How does incorporating the five senses help our writing?
Creates Richer Detail
When we detail what a character sees and experiences, we help the audience get a clearer picture. You also imbue the writing with the character’s unique perspective– or your own, if you’re telling the story from a third person point of view. Just as each person sees and experiences the world differently, so do our characters.
Personalizes Reading Experience
You also personalize the writing. Scent is particularly powerful because it can help people recall memories. I can remember drinking jasmine tea one night and recalling the smell of a Barbie perfume from my childhood. It was so sudden and surprising but it made me realize how closely memory is tied to sense. It’s even better if the character recalls a memory from smell or touch.
Just as food, people and music at a party set a mood, the senses establish a mood in your story. Is the music in the chapter jaunty and lively, or is it sad and slow? Does your character like the taste of wine or curry or chocolate chips? Is it raining outside, creating a damp and stormy night? Using the five senses in your writing has a subtle effect that ties nicely into the story and reveals things about the characters.
I think the five senses are an important part of writing that we shouldn’t overlook. It adds life to the piece and makes it easier for the reader to imagine themselves in that world.
So in the words of Simple Minds: “Don’t you forget about me/Don’t don’t don’t don’t/Don’t you forget about me!” 😀