Heighten Your Senses in Fiction Writing

Smell: We often smell something that reminds us of a familiar place or even another person. Make a list of five smells that remind you of something else. For instance, fresh bread may remind you of the summer you spent with your Aunt Lillie. Newly cleaned laundry may remind you of the time in college when you spent every Saturday night at the laundrymat.

Jane climbed into the passenger seat. New car smell wafted throughout the vehicle. Memories of her 16th birthday came flooding back. Her own red convertible with a big white bow on top.

Just like with sound, sometimes you can be blunt with smell. Simply say a barn smells like manure. We all know what that smells like.

Taste: The easiest way for you to describe taste in your writing is to actually taste the item you’re trying to describe. That’s not to say you should eat mold so you’ll have an accurate description. But really get inside your mind and imagine what it would taste like.

For practice, you can actually taste something that’s edible. Let it sit in your mouth a minute before you chew or swallow it. How does the food feel on your tongue? Now, take a bite. Did it squirt or gush? Have fun with your description and really dig deep into your imagination.

If someone tastes blood, you can simply leave it at that. No need to go into elaborate detail about what blood tastes like. We all know the iron taste associated with blood.

Touch: Is a tennis ball just round? Of course not. It’s fuzzy, firm and can even feel like a wet dog if you’ve been playing tennis in the rain! Get your hands on things, clocks, tires, trees, your cat, carpet. Describe textures and squeeze it if you can. Hit it with your hand (everything except the cat) and see how it makes your hand feel. Describe that as well.

Mark felt the scab on his arm. Rough. Uneven. Raw. The scraped skin had an edge slightly raised. He gently placed his fingers on the smooth side of his arm, sliding his fingernails into the unsightly blackish-brown skin cover. And yanked.

Using your senses in your writing helps enhance the overall story you’re trying to convey. Explore your surroundings using your five senses and you’ll open up a whole new world for your readers.