Tip Tuesday — Use Your Common Senses

All five senses are essential to drawing readers into the world that you are creating. It rounds out what you are writing about and really makes readers feel like they are right there with your characters.

A lot of writers tend to focus on sight, describing what the character is seeing around them, but forget about sound, smell, touch and taste.

Here’s an example of a short scene that only describes sight:

Ellen walked down a hall dimly lit with candles. The left side of the hall was a series of blood red doors, while the right side was a smooth wall with a delicate rose wallpaper. Under her feet, the floor was gray marble.

So you get a sense of what the hall looked like. But it really doesn’t put you in the moment or help establish mood. Here’s the same scene with all the senses.

Ellen walked down a hall dimly lit with candles that left a sooty smell in the air and a sweet taste in her mouth. The left side of the hall was a series of blood red doors, while the right side was a smooth wall with a delicate rose wallpaper. The paper gave off a slightly damp feel as she ran her hand along it. Under her feet, gray marble floor echoed her footsteps, the sound bouncing off the ceiling.

The second example is much more rounded and helps put the reader in the character’s place. You don’t have to describe everything using all five senses. Sometimes you will want to focus on just one or two senses. But you want to make sure that sight isn’t the only one you include.

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