Use Your Senses


Use Your Senses to Write

We are human beings, we use our senses to connect and understand the world around us. We HEAR – We SEE – We TASTE – We SMELL – We FEEL… and our readers also wish to engage their senses when reading a story or book.   Therefore, as a writer we need to tune into all our senses as we write.


Allow your reader to listen to conversations and dialogues, and even to eavesdrop on a character’s internal monologue.  This allows no holes barred access to the reader to get to know the character, how they think, how they talk and build the understanding and connection between reader and character.   The words that are said are one layer to the complexity of a character.

Also include background sounds, and noises – this creates the backdrop to a scene and helps to paint the picture in the reader’s mind.   Additionally, something as simple as a character’s choice of music will add another layer to their personality and by doing so will give the reader a little bit more to build their own image of the character.


When writing the writer needs to be very clever in their choice of words to convey an image to the reader.

Description is key, but needs to be written in such a way to SHOW the reader and allow an image to clearly form in their mind’s eye.   This is an important part of the craft of writing.   A writer is a painter with only words as his/her medium – it is a gift, but also a skill that can be learned through reading and regular practice.

You need to paint a picture with words – and this is truly the art of writing.


Imagine sitting down for a fabulous meal and you can only look at it while your companion enjoys the subtle spices, the textures and the exquisite flavour combinations.  Now, allow your companion to share with you the experience purely by words – what details would you want to know.   It is the same when writing, if your character is dining in a fine restaurant or has just taken a bite of a ‘gorilla brain burger’ – your reader needs to be sharing that experience too and get a good sense of the taste.

To do this, you as a writer need to work at explaining in the written form, so that readers may also savour the experience along with the character in the story.


Similar to taste, the reader needs to be made aware of any pleasant or unpleasant aromas. Using the right words to get across to a reader is important.   When you think about the smell of rotten eggs – how do you react?   When you walk into a room filled with a soft, calming perfume – how does that make you feel?

Using the sense of smell as part of the reader’s journey will heighten their link with the story or plot.


There are two kinds of feeling –

1) Emotions/feelings
2) The sense of touch

When writing use a mixture of both.   Emotional feelings are easier to incorporate, as you will be constantly writing to convey the emotions/feelings of your protagonist through the story.

However, by including the sense of touch is a clever way to build substance to a scene.   Think about touching silk, or how about an ice-cold glass – these are the extras that really draw the reader into the scene.

Using Your Senses as a Writer

As a writer you need to become much more aware of your own senses and really spend time to study them in detail, as well as considering how you would share the experience with a reader through only words.   The more you practice this skill the easier it will be to include in your writing and add more dimensions to your story – your readers will appreciate it.

Don’t Over Do It

The only word of warning is not too over do it – if you spend too much time on adding so much sensory descriptions you are at risk of losing the momentum of the flow of your story.  Use it to set an important scene and to highlight key experiences that are crucial to building the suspension or for the reader to connect at a deeper level with a character.

Practice makes perfect, and becoming more aware of your own senses in various everyday situations will certainly play an integral part in adding a new layer to your writing – one which your reader will thank you for.




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