Saturday, May 18, 2024

Using the Senses in Writing By Connie Vines #Round Robin Blog Hop, #Writing Tips, #Sensory Details


This Month's Topic: Using the Senses in Writing.

Thank you, Skye, for this month's topic

** My apologies, readers, for the giant photo in this post. (I've examined all the HTML info and cannot find the photo's stream.) Please scroll past it.

Sensory Details are what bring a story to life.

A gentle breeze blew my hair across my cheek (TOUCH) as I walked along the uneven trail (TOUCH). Leaves rustled (SOUND) above me, and a lone crow gave several loud caws (SOUND) overhead. I took a deep breath. The smell of decay and leaves (SMELL) made me wary, and the coppery taste of fear coated my throat. I scanned my surroundings to ensure I wasn't being followed (SIGHT).

The Five Senses also sets the story's mood/tone/genre.

My first example lets the reader know this isn't going to be a straight-forward romance. 

The reader will expect a murder mystery/suspense/or even a Gothic novel.

Never cheat your reader. Sensory details draw your reader into the story, trigger emotional responses, and, most importantly, make them feel a part of your story world. 

Since I'm an introvert and tactile, adding these details/emotional reactions is natural for me. In contrast, a more analytical person's writing might focus on the visual and take a more detective approach/reaction to the sensory clues. 

It is how your character processes his/her sensory details.

This is for fans of Star Trek (original series: William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, and Forest Kelly) and the movies that followed (Chris Pine, Zachery Quinto, Karl Uban). 

Mr. Spock was my favorite character. Though I observe, analyze, retain facts, and relate deals decades later, I am not, and will never be, "Mr. Spock."

Captain Kirk was a physical, in-your-face kind of guy. He yelled, punched, and bled. First and the scene or to make a scene, the man didn't seem to ever sleep. 

Then there is "Bones," Doctor Leonard McCoy. He grumbles and points out injustice, holds his ground for what is right. and saves his patient's life. He has empathy, compassion, and wit. 

So, the first key to successful sensory details in a story is to know your character. How does your character look at the world? What lens does your character use?

Excerpts from Gumbo Ya Ya (an anthology)

A Slice of Scandal

She ignored his question and continued with her narrative. "Instead, the scenes are shot according to where they are set. The cooking, naturally, will be here on the sound stage. But Harvey wants some location work, too."

Sebastian felt the hair on the back of his neck stand up. "Location work?" How would he investigate a murder and a smuggling ring if he wandered over some tourist site? He flipped through the script. "My contract doesn't say anything about location work."

Julia glanced over her script, making eye contact. "You're joking, right?"

Think fast, Beaux, just stall her. "I'm not ready."

"You're not ready?" she asked, her voice heavy with disbelief. You've lived in a swamp, caught and eaten alligators, frogs, snakes, and fish....and you don't want to appear at a local shopping mall?"

"I'm not ready; you told me that. I still get large crowds."

The look she shot in his direction clearly labeled him a liar, but she kept silent since Harvey was stationed nearby.

Love Potion No. 9

"Don't shake your finger at me, Simone Basso. I know what I'm doing." Persia Richmond said, holding a pipette to fill a crystal half-ounce atomizer with perfume. The top notes of peach blossoms, bergamot, and mid-notes of gardenia, honey, and tuberose tanalized. The tuberose, being the most carnal of the floral notes and high-ticket natural essence for her fragrance compound, merged with peony and orange blossom to temper the intoxication properties. The base notes lingered while a hint of something unnamed and mysterious beguiled and skimmed across the narrow processing room, saturating her senses.

The fragrance was New Orleans, culture at its most upscale moments, and Mardi Gras at its naughtiest.

The imported essence oils of the tuberose had nearly emptied her bank account, leaving Persia only one egret. Her Grandpapa hadn't lived to experience her mastery of perfumery.

Holding up the bottle, she allowed the light to shine through the tempered vial for a moment before she ensured the stopper was tight. 

Simone leaned over Persia's shoulder, "I done warned and warned you about messing with love potions."

The statement sent Persia's heart thundering in her chest. Snagging a steadying breath, she regained her composure. "You worry too much, Simone. This is a perfume. Nothing more, nothing less."

I hope you've enjoyed this month's post :)

Please visit the other talented authors' blog sites to learn more about the 5 Senses and story snippets!

Happy Reading!



Connie Vines


  1. Hi Connie, that's so interesting that you say as an introvert you add these sensory details naturally. I'm also an introvert and I love both writing and reading sensory language.
    I also totally agree that it depends on your character what they notice regarding the senses, and on the genre which sensory mood you need to portray. I really enjoyed your post, and this topic.

  2. Very important point - Whose head are you in? Different personalities react differently to the same stimuli and that is as telling as the scene itself.


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