Everyone knows the five common senses: sight, smell, taste, touch, and sound. You want the reader to see, smell, taste, feel, and hear what your character does.
There are also “senses” that are not physical or neurologically based, but more like perceptions. The two I like to use are time and space. When trying to convey one of these senses, you have to incorporate one (or more) of the main five. Usually, it will be sight. The position of the sun in the sky can give your reader a sense of time. But sound is helpful in showing a sense of space, such an echo in a large room.
There are so many words available to get the world you are writing about across to the reader. To figure out which ones paint the clearest picture of your scene, ask yourself some questions about the experience you are trying to give your reader.
Is it good or bad? Lots of words have connotations that help convey a feeling with your description. Be sure to use adjectives that mesh with the overall idea you are going for. If you are trying to show the reader an upper class woman in a good way, for example, you might use words like slender, elegant, and exquisite. You wouldn’t want to use words like skinny, snobby, or hoity-toity, since these words give a negative feeling.
What does it remind you of? What is something common that you can compare it to? If you are working in science fiction or fantasy, the thing you are describing may be unlike anything your reader has ever experienced. In this case, try comparing it to something common that your reader will be familiar with, then tell how it’s different. Speaking of different…
How is it different than other things like it? When describing something common, like a chair, don’t tell us what we already know. Don’t say: it has four legs, a back to lean on and a seat for your rump. Everybody already knows what a “chair” looks like. Tell us what’s different or unique about this particular chair. Maybe the back was carved from a dark, shiny wood to resemble vines climbing a trellis, or the seat is upholstered in the softest grey fabric you’ve ever had the privilege of running your fingertips across.
My Example: The Beach
For practice, make up a sentence of your own for each sense and post it in the comments below. I’d love to see what all of you creative writers come up with. How do you write description? Any great ideas that I missed? Let me know!! I appreciate any and all feedback. Even if you think this sucks, as long as you tell me why you think it sucks. I can’t wait to hear from you guys. Interaction is what this life is all about.
Also: ROW80 Update #4 April 15th
Writing: 233 on my “Tanka” post Friday, and wrote on this a little more before posting.
Reading: One down, three to go!
Editing: Still only at 6 pages overall. Gotta work on this! Seriously.
Blogging: This post, with update!! Plus my “Tanka” post on Friday. 😉