Heighten Your Senses in Fiction Writing

Many writers are plagued with a story that seems flat and lacking certain elements of life. There’s no depth to the story because readers don’t have a clear image of the surroundings. Draw out a captivating story filled with solid description by heightening your senses in writing.

The five senses – sight, sound, smell, taste and touch – are vital to adding a completely new level to your writing. Your words will come alive and readers will be enthralled in the story you have to tell.

Sight: Look at any object where you’re sitting now. Drop your adjectives and describe it fully. Don’t say you have a large, square bookcase. Say it’s made of oak that spans the length of a dining room table, filled with books the size of a shoe box.

Drop as many adjectives from your description as possible. Get to the bare bones of the object by using nouns.

If a character receives flowers, don’t describe them as pretty. Tell us what makes the flowers pretty. “Pretty” is so vague.

Try, “Baby’s breath danced around twelve pink rosebuds, bundled tighter than a newborn.” Now that sounds pretty. And we have a clear visual of the flowers.

Sound: When trying to describe a scene, say a noisy bar, use words that really capture the essence of the atmosphere. “Drunk men clang hearty beer mugs together, short decibels away from shattering the glass. Meaningless chatter fills the room trying to drown out the barbaric beat of an untalented rock band. Sounding more like a bunch of teenagers practicing for the first time in an empty garage.”

Using the flowers as an example once again, maybe the bouquet is wrapped. The cellophane crackled around the flowers. A single rosebud escaped and the petals separated from the tiny stem without a sound as the flower smashed upon the ground.

Be blunt with sound when you can. If someone keys a car, it sounds like fingernails going down a chalkboard. We’re all familiar with that sound. If your character is getting the creeps from the sound, readers will definitely get the creeps with that description.

The conclusion of this series takes a look at the remaining three senses – smell, taste and touch. Using all of the senses, you’ll create mesmerizing fiction that puts your reader in the heart of the story.