A bridge over a beautiful waterfall

A bridge over a beautiful waterfall
Nature brings magic

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Saturday Story Building - Sensory description

During the #WritersRoad chat on Monday, we talked about sensory descriptions in stories. How many times have you been drawn into a character's life by their perceptions of the world around them? How many times do your senses tell you about the world or trigger a memory?

Sight, hearing, taste, touch, smell. These are the five senses. Unless your character has lost the use of one of these senses, he or she will experience all of them. Writers need to give their readers those experiences. As a reader, we want to know what's going on in the character's world. As a writer, we need to tell our readers what's going on in the character's world.

That doesn't mean allow yourself to get bogged down in details. We don't need to include everything. As a writer, we want to whet the appetite of the reader so they continue in our world. We need to give them that world through sensory perception. Since they can't see the world as we do, they don't experience it the way the character does, we need to give them something to go by.

For example:

She walked along the shoreline, remembering. The breeze, redolent with the odors of salt and fish, drew her back to her childhood. The soft fabric sliding over her skin now was a far cry from the rough cloth of her clothing back then. Her shoes rubbed her feet raw, the stiff leather scraping against her skin, when she was still a child. Now she wore shoes that were soft and well fitted. They were as odd as her clothing was now with the memories of the starving child she'd been. Her stomach twisted in knots at remembered hunger and her hands shook as the cold, uncaring waves beat against her tiny body during the storm that almost claimed her life. She shook her head, chasing away the memories.

We see through this character the scent of the breeze, the feel of the fabric she's wearing. We see through her memories what life was like when she was a child. How different things were for her then. We can feel the difference in fabrics from her adult self to her child self. The ill fitting shoes she wore as a child compared to the shoes made for her feet as an adult. We see all of this through the use of sensory description.

Who's an author that you like who uses the character's senses to tell you more about the world they inhabit?

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