Lessons from a writer: Six senses in writing
Sight, smell, taste, feel, hear . . . You know the five senses. Some argue there are six. Some create the sixth and maybe a seventh. Point is, are they there? Are they in your writing? They should be. You hear something, feel something, and maybe you even smell something. You definitely see something if you’re reading this. But, what if you were unable to do any of those things? Not a sound, smell, feeling. Nothing. Well, how do you think your reader feels when you deny them their senses in your story?
Welcome to our tenth group panel!
Which of the six senses do you think you use most in writing and why do you think it helps your writing most?
I don’t know which sense I actually use the most in practice, but I think the most important for me, and the one I like to use the most, is the sense of smell. So often when I go outside on my runs or elsewhere, I pick up a scent somewhere and immediately I’m transferred back to an old memory. Other times, it triggers a fictional scene I visualize. I believe scents might trigger the imagination more than others, which might be helpful when writing a story. For example, when I went through my wife’s grandparent’s basement the first time, it triggered memories of walking through the old cellar of our apartment building in Berlin, Germany about thirty years before. Often the descriptions of scents in scenes can help set the emotion of the scene. If I want to describe a romantic scene, I might refer to the note of her perfume. Then if I describe the scene of a soldier in a battle field, I would describe the smell of mud, disturbed grass, and gun powder. –Richard Happerger
Six senses? Ooohhh . . . Cayce is gettin’ all paranormal on us! The sense I use most in my writing is sight. The old adage is that a picture paints a thousand words. So, to paint a word picture, I need use words to describe what my characters see. Of course, using the other senses help in this too, but you cannot describe the smell of blue or hear the sound of a statue of a young woman made of green tinted opalescent glass. –Steve Guglich
If intuition is the sixth sense, I think I use this the most. Being insightful with my writing helps me to become more immersed in the story that I am penning. I feel that if I am consumed by what I write, others will be too. So, I try to provide enough detail to transport the reader . . . things that work for me as the writer and delve deep into those things. Having insight into characters or a scene and passing that along within the writing is something I love doing. I think that feel and intuition kind of go hand in hand and I like playing up on those things with anything that I write from nonfiction to fiction, so whatever is read is not only understood but felt deeply by the reader. The ways in which I accomplish this is writing characters that have experienced what I have experienced, putting them in true situations and by telling the truth—even in fiction. It makes for believable writing. If I am writing and am overtaken by the things that I’ve got on paper, I really feel that the same can happen for the reader as well. –Tyronica Smith
Because I write steamy romances, I use touch, taste, and smell a lot. Like he smelled of the sea and cedar, the taste of his skin was salty and warm from working in the sun all day . . . you know . . . fun stuff.
It helps tap into the primal sources you want when you’re thinking of what gets you going. Looks are one thing, but when you think of how they smell, what they feel and taste like, you start to really live in the story and that’s how you get a good scene going. –Terra Beilman
I think that in writing, the sense of sight plays an important role, especially when you are describing what is going around the character. Description is everything in a work, and they help paint the picture for the scene you are trying to create. –Kyle Crawford
Want to know more about this week’s panel?
Terra Beilman is an ex-vet tech and a current stay at home mom, but she has always been a writer. She spends most of her days reading romance, writing romance, or thinking about writing romance. When she’s not reading or writing, she’s running after her two boys, hanging out with her AAT friends on Facebook, and making her homemade crazy flavored jams and salsas.
I live in Chicago, Illinois, and I work at Walgreens. My writing influences best come from video games and television shows. And, I hope to publish my own novel series someday.
I am a writer of Fantasy and Science Fiction. I’m working on my first fantasy series called, The Veil Saga. My goal is to have it ready for print by the Fall of 2017. To find out more about me and The Veil Saga, you can check out my website.
I still consider myself a novice writer. I’m still unpublished and write short stories to practice certain types of scenes. I have a novel project on hold until I feel I know enough to do a good job. Publishing would be nice, but it is not my driving force.
I love writing across genres. I’ve recently found a fondness for nonfiction, and the best thing next to an awesome cup of coffee is an even more awesome book! Creators create, readers read, and writers suffer long silences from tight-lipped characters 😛