I know I have written about using all five senses when you write before, but I recently realized I am not REALLY doing that myself. Yes I write describing things that can be heard, seen and smelled, but as I spent time outside today, it occurred to me that the common, obvious, and nearest things should not be the sense descriptions that I fall back upon.
For example, as I listen to my surroundings, everyone notices the traffic noise, the birds, or a dog barking in the distance. It is the things not often heard, or taken for granted that can add depth to a story or character. Even a light breeze has a sound, the swish of a jacket sleeve as you move your arms to walk; the click of a dog’s nails on the pavement, or the light rustle of the tall grass as you pass through.
I also noted I was thinking of the sense of touch only in regards to my hands. Touch can be felt through my feet; hot and tired in the same shoes I have had on for hours, or the way I feel inside as I think of the love I have for someone. There are many ways one can feel the sense of touch.
The sense of smell and taste are also thought of as limited. Yes, if you had onions on your sandwich, you might still taste them long after lunch, but what about the air? Does it have a taste or smell also?
Are you truly seeing all that surrounds you? Look beyond the obvious. If you are not sure, ask someone near to describe what he or she sees and make sure you see at least five other things than were mentioned. I challenge the writer in you to come up with a list of five different labels for each of our senses the next time you are out and write them down. Do they appear common, or have you struck upon some new terms that could liven up your descriptions?
Wake up your sense and your brain and see how detailed you can be. You never know, it may not only improve your observational skills, but also your writing- maybe even your life. There is much to be happy and look forward to when you open up all your senses and really pay attention to what’s around us.
© May 26, 2008 Marie Boyum