“First drafts of most travelogues are full of rich, visual detail, but often fall short on smells, tastes, sounds, and feelings. I’ve learned to add an editing round to incorporate all the senses, and am constantly surprised at all the new memories that are conjured up and the rich expansion of each scene. I’ve noticed that quite a lot of nice metaphors and similes come out of this exercise, too.”
What a great idea: adding an editing round to enrich the sensory flavor of our storytelling! In a recent BookBaby.com post (http://blog.bookbaby.com/2016/01/use-all-five-senses-to-enrich-your-writing/) self-publishing pro and author Carla King (http://carlaking.com/), offered some helpful how-to tips on how to enhance storytelling by bringing not just sight, but our four other senses into play:
Smell: Our sense of smell is the one most closely related to memory — and this offers many triggering opportunities in a story. Smell is also highly evocative and emotive. You can transport your readers to an exotic locale easily and effectively by dwelling on the smells that characters inhabiting it are affected by.
Taste: Some 75% of our sense of taste is formed by smell, so these two senses work in tandem and need to be described this way. Taste sensations basically break down into five categories: salty, sweet, sour, bitter, and savory. Try bringing tastes and smells into the world you’ve created and you’ll have a provocative influence, not only your characters, but your readers as well.
Touch: While all the other senses are localized, the sense of touch is experienced all over the skin and inside the body. Each of us has an astonishing five million sensory nerve receptors and more than twenty different kinds of nerve endings, we have a lot of room to play with when it comes to bringing this sense into the worlds we create. As Carla notes, “The feel of a handshake can reveal a page’s worth of character-building visual description. Keep in mind that the most sensitive areas of the body are your hands, lips, face, neck, tongue, fingertips, and feet.”
Hearing: Hearing is our early warning system and it’s crucial to our survival — and that of the characters we conjure up. “Our hearing separates complicated sounds into tones or frequencies that our minds track individually. We can follow a variety of strains of voices or instruments while also taking note of the slap of water on a boat hull, the whistle of wind through a crack in the window, the tinkle of glasses, a backfiring engine. Descriptions of sounds can backlight a scene or create drama with sudden impact.”
There’s a lot to ponder here. Doing a review of major scenes to be sure they are loaded with emotion-triggering descriptions for all five senses sounds like a powerful way to boost their reader impact. I’m going to try this — how about you? Write on!