Monday, June 17, 2013

Do You See What I See?

by Mary Waibel

I love being immersed into another world when I read. Whether it's a mystical place the author has created from deep in their mind, or a story set right in my back yard, the words used have the ability to carry me away from the real world and into theirs.

I've found an author engages as many of my senses as possible, it truly lets me feel as though I am there with the character.

So, how do you do this in your own writing?

Obviously, sight is the easiest. Colors, physical descriptions of objects and people are the first places I turn to set up my world. But, I try not to stop there.


These other senses can be incorporated to flush out your world.  Let's work with this example:

She stood in the middle of the woods. The trees moved with a gust of wind and she shivered. A hand clamped over her mouth.

Okay, not so very descriptive. So, how do we add the senses in to immerse our reader into this world?

Let's start with the visual description of where the girl is.
Trees surrounded her, their straight, wide trunks narrowing to thin points as they rose so high it seemed they would touch the sky.

Now, what does she hear?
A gust of wind blew through the grove and the branches creaked, their eerie moans sending shivers down her back. A twig snapped behind her. She jerked around, her heart thundering in her ears.

What does she smell?
The scents of pine and earth surrounded her. She took a deep breath. Beneath the comforting aromas  of the forest was another smell, something out of place, yet familiar.

What does she feel?
She stepped back, ramming into the tree behind her. Her palms stung where the rough bark bit into her tender skin. A heavy weight settled on her shoulder. Before she could let loose the scream building in her throat, a hand clamped firmly over her mouth.

What does she taste?
She jerked her head, trying to break free of her captor's hold. Her teeth scraped against her lip, cutting the soft flesh. The coppery tang of blood filled her mouth.

As more senses are added, it allows the reader to truly feel like they are in the story with your character.

I gave this a more sinister feel, but you could easily make it a happy moment, depending on your word choices.

Now, it's your turn. How would you have fleshed this out, using as many of the five sense as you can, to immerse your reader in the world?


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Katie L. Carroll said...

Great post, Mary! I loved your descriptions in Quest of the Hart, so clearly you've mastered this technique. :)

Unknown said...

Thanks, Katie. Glad you enjoyed them!

Unknown said...

Great post, Mary!! I am ADD and want to get to the action when reading and writing, so I definitely need to stop and do the 5 senses thing. I'm always learning from you, beautiful lady! :) THANKS!!

Unknown said...

Thanks, Erin! And I've read your descriptive scenes. You do an excellent job of using those five senses.

Unknown said...

Awww...thanks! Aren't you sweet!! <3

Wendy said...

Terrific exercise Mary, but it's hard to get people to play, isn't it? IMHO, this would be a good topic for the week long Muse Online Conference.
I love exercises and have made a note of your 3 sentences. I will play with them when I can, to create different moods. Not as easy as it looks, eh? :) Thanks.

J.Q. Rose said...

What a fantastic example of writing using the senses. Thanks for sharing this. I would like to take some time to work on it. A good exercise for a writers group for sure.!!