Monday, December 9, 2013

Bringing in the Senses By Beverly Oz

Originally Published in the TWRP Greenhouse

Sensory Detail: Bringing in the Senses By Beverly Oz

Ever run across the sweet, heady smell of honeysuckle while driving in the country? Can you close your eyes and visualize the vibrant reds and pinks of a sunset, or the pale greens of a newly budded tree? Can you imagine the brush of a feather against the backside of your knee? When you think about licking a freshly cut lemon and allowing its tangy juice to linger on your tongue, does your mouth water? Does the sound of honking of horns and screeching of tires make you cringe?

Can you smell it?

Can you taste it?

Can you hear it?

Can you see it?

Now think about what you've just read and how those words affected your senses? Did you smell the honeysuckle? See the reds, oranges, and greens? How about that lemon? Could you almost taste it?
Sensory Response

The human mind reacts to sensory suggestions, even suggestions taken in through written words. After a person experiences a sound, touch, taste, etc., the mere mention of the experienced sense can quickly evoke a sensory response.

For a writer, like myself, this is powerful information. Why? Because I know I can control what my readers see, smell, taste, hear, and feel simply by choosing one word over another. For example, consider the impact of changing just a few words in the following sentence.

Can you feel it?

I rubbed my hand against the furry softness of the cashmere sweater.

I rubbed my hand against the slick, almost wet, skin of the snake.

I opened the door and was nearly knocked down by the oppressive heat and humidity.

I opened the door and was nearly knocked down by the frigid north wind.

When I write, I carefully sprinkle in sensory words to achieve greater reader involvement. I want the readers to experience what my heroines and heroes experience and become immersed in my story. If I can coax the people who buy my books to completely lose themselves in my books' make- believe worlds, maybe they'll come back for more.


Reprinted with permission from

No comments: