Writing With All Five Senses

E.L. Doctorow once said, “Good writing is supposed to evoke sensation in the reader not the fact that it is raining, but the feeling of being rained upon.”

What is he talking about? Easy. He is describing the importance of vivid description. For any writer to succeed, he/she must master showing instead of telling. For those of you who don't know what I'm talking about, here's an example:

Telling: I heard a dog crying in the distance.

Showing: The mournful howl of a dog ripped through the air, causing my pulse to quicken and goosebumps to appear on my flesh.

Do you see the difference? In the first one, I told you that a dog cried, but you have no idea what it sounds like. In the second, I helped you to hear the dog for yourself. You now know that it was a mournful and eerie sound.

In every good story, it is vital to allow your reader to become involved. One of the best ways to do that is to use the five senses. Don't tell your reader things, allow him to see, hear, smell, feel, and taste them. Paint such a vivid picture that your reader can't help but become involved in the story.

Try this exercise to strengthen your skills of showing.

Get a piece of paper. Divide it into five columns and title each column with the following: see, hear, smell, taste, and feel. Now, think of your favorite place in the world. Imagine you are there right now. In the appropriate columns, write down everything you can about that place. What are you seeing? Are there smells? If so, describe them. How do you feel? Warm, cold, scared, peaceful? What kind of sounds do you hear? Cars, birds, water? Taste can be a little tricky unless your favorite place is a restaurant, but try to come up with something if you can.

Once you have your detailed list, write an article in which you describe that place to the reader. Don't tell them about the place, but use your five senses to show them the place that you love so much. Don't focus too much on one sense, but be sure to include each one.

Whatever you do, don't underestimate the importance of the five senses. No one wants to read a story where everything is told. It's like sitting down and reading a text book. Boring! Bring your story to life in the eyes of your reader. Show, don't tell!

For more information on using the five senses, check out my 8-week e-class at LearnWriteNow.com!


Anonymous said...

You need to make it more interesting.......

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