1. beehoney

    beehoney Member

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    how can I improve my skills: Writing with five senses

    Discussion in 'Setting Development' started by beehoney, Nov 12, 2017.

    Hello Writing-Community,


    Sight, hearing, smell, taste, and touch—these are our five senses. No wonder that it’s important for a scene to describe with the five senses.

    But I’m a noob in describe scene with senses.

    Well, now you may think haha, it’s very easy to describe a scene with senses.

    Yeah, it is. You can describe senseless what the character sees or what he/she hear.

    I wanna focus the reader on a scene like a photo. And that’s very difficult for me. I can write, write and write I never focus what’s really important!

    How can I improve my skills to write with senses? How do you fix this problem?


    bye,

    beehoney
     
  2. Azuresun

    Azuresun Senior Member

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    I try to think of times when a certain sensation immediately caught my attention, and then try to evoke something like that to draw attention to a certain part of a scene. For example--

    --A character has just been punched or slapped unexpectedly, splitting their lip. I want to emphasise the physical shock and the harm they've suffered, so I describe how shocked they are at the taste of blood.

    --To convey that a deserted house is creepy, I describe the sounds--how every floorboard seems to creak, and how the sounds of a branch tapping against a window start to sound like scratching fingers.

    --To establish a character as being sleazy, I draw attention to the smells of stale tobacco and cheap aftershave that hangs about him.

    It's one of those things where you can draw heavily on your own experience--think of the times that a sensory sensation made a strong impression on you.
     
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  3. izzybot

    izzybot Transhuman Autophage Contributor

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    If you feel you're lacking focus, then broadening the scope to all five senses is probably not the way to go. Focus in on one or two. Like @Azuresun recommends, think about what catches your attention first. To use his first example, say a character gets punched in the face.
    • Sight - they're astonished by the sudden flow of red down their shirt.
    • Sound - they hear the crnch of the cartilage of their nose collapsing. (You could also use phrasing like "their head snapped back" to imply sound [snap].)
    • Smell + taste - these two often go hand in hand, and in this example the character might be overwhelmed by the sudden taste and scent of salt and copper.
    • Touch - it's hot, it's sticky, and it's right over their lips, which have a ton of nerve endings. It's very unpleasant.
    You don't have to include all of these things, certainly not at once. But you could pick one to focus on. I think that the best one to focus on often varies from case to case, so think about what you want the reader to remember about the scene. Do you want them to remember the bright red blood, or the nausea the character feels upon seeing it? Don't overload them on the sensory information.
     
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  4. Shadowfax

    Shadowfax Contributor Contributor

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    Alternatively, you can use all 5 senses as a checklist...my MC has just come around after a bad crash, he goes through sight, sound, taste, smell, touch, yup, I'm still alive...

    But it's what's right for your scene; it's probably better, in general, to focus on the important thing, the thing that hits you right between the eyes...

    ...are, to my mind, bad advice. I'd suggest that the overriding sense of touch you'd be feeling is the pain of the impact; the shock at the taste of blood, or the stickiness over their lips are pretty much irrelevant; if the lips have a ton of nerve endings, they'll be doing a pretty good job of complaining about the pain.
     
  5. beehoney

    beehoney Member

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    @izzybot I write the scene like this but my feeling said that's wrong.
    @Shadowfax The checklist is a good idea. May I think about it. And that's it: When I write scenes and there is a sentence (in 1st person) like "I heard a loud Boom!" or "I wore an emerald gown" I said everything and describe it with the senses. But I find those a little bit ridiculous. You understand?
     
  6. Mrs.Smith

    Mrs.Smith Member

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    Keep in mind that it takes effort to be aware of all five senses at once - one or two senses usually overwhelm the others. At this very moment, my feet are cold and my shoulders are stiff - I'm not really processing the sound of my dog snoring or the play of sunlight across the corner of my desk or any scent at all. My feet are cold and my shoulders are stiff, which would tell you that I've been sitting here without moving for too long. If I were writing it from a first person POV, I might say, "I drew the blanket down over my feet and rotated my shoulders, then felt for the raised lines with my index fingers and resumed typing. Just another paragraph. Just another couple dozen words and I'll be done." The reader doesn't need to see or hear or smell anything else to envision herself at the keyboard, trying to get comfortable and finish writing.

    Also, use a variety of senses, depending on the scene. You don't want her sniffing the air in every setting! And try to change up whether she's describing what she sees/feels/hears, or is reacting to it. The sun was warm on her skin - describing. She flinched as a spark struck her outstretched hand - reacting.

    But most importantly, don't overthink it. Just imagine yourself in that scene and write it. You can overthink it in the editing process.
     
  7. Storm713

    Storm713 Member

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    Everyone has given good advice, I'm just gonna pitch in and share an excersize I once did. So, I picked a photo of myself doing something/being in a place that was special or that I felt conveyed emotion in some way or that just had spirit, and I wrote a page on my senses. I put myself into the photo and asked: What was I doing? What did I hear? Smell? See? Touch? Taste? I poured all of my beautiful language into that one page, and now I find that it helped slightly with describing scenes through senses. Good luck! :)
     

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