Many writers say they struggle most with appealing to one’s sense of smell, yet studies say our strongest memories are linked to specific scents.
The most beloved and engaging books are descriptive-rich, engaging all our senses as we move through the story. As writers, we usually have our favorite sense, finding it easy to paint compelling visuals while potentially ignoring, for example, the kinesthetics among us.
To create a full, engaging experience for our readers, however, we must write to delight all five of the senses: sight, sound, smell, touch and taste. Neglect one or several senses and a story becomes flat, one-dimensional and sadly cast aside.
If you’d like to better write to all five senses, here are my three tips:
1.) Create a Resource List of Sensory-Rich Words
Spend some time brainstorming a list of descriptive words that you can refer to when needing inspiration. Continually add to your list, expanding your categories as they evolve. Your list could look like this:
Sound Words: drone, buzz, bark, rumble, rustle, gurgle, quiet as midnight
Touch (feeling) Words: spongy, dizzying warmth, gritty, jagged
Romantic Words: bewitching, enchanting, cherished
Write World has a great post: Word list: taste, smell, sound
Here’s a few other websites that help:
Sensory Words by Vivian Gilbert Zabel
Another Sensory Words (PDF)
Sensory Detail Word Bank
Words to Describe Smell, Sound, Taste, Touch …
2.) Expand Your Vocabulary
Seriously. To make your writing more complex and interesting, we need to know more complex and interesting words.
Make it a point to look up words you don’t recognize. Read other author’s works, writing down words and phrasing that speak to you. Visit sites like this. Make the thesaurus your good friend. Download a “word of the day” app. Buy a “new word a day” daily calendar. Be creative in finding new words and use them daily.
3.) Be More Present to Your Life
We are consistently surrounded by rich sensory experiences—IF we take the time to notice them. The first day of school after a lazy summer. Camping under the midnight sky. The sounds of a Little League ball game. A visit to the one-building department store in rural Wisconsin. The elderly woman inching her way across the street.
Become a keen observer and recorder of the sensory intricacies of life. Make it a habit to jot down your observances in a journal. Quick snippets like “her hair was the color of a butterscotch candy” or “elderly lady bent over like a comma” can jumpstart your creative thinking when you need it.
I hope this helped! If you have any questions, feel free to visit my ask box!