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Using the Five Senses – Creative Writing by S.A. Barone

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Using the Five Senses - Creative Writing
by S.A. Barone

Using the five senses, Sight, Sound, Taste, Touch, and Smell, is a good strategy for descriptive writing.  Sight is the one sense that provides most of the detail for our stories. Writer Sarah Todd says, “Our words become our readers’ eyes, giving us a blank canvas upon which to paint a picture to tell our story.”

Sound relies on the complete absence of the sense of sight.  Think of a small child that is put to bed, waiting for their eyes to adjust to the dark.  They hear a sound.  Where is the sound coming from?  How close is it?  Is it under the bed?  Do they dare get up?

Taste is a sense the writer can have fun with. For example two kids that decide to make a new drink.  They get all the liquid stuff out of the refrigerator and put in into their mom’s blender.  What tastes will they experience from their new drink?  Will it be bitter, sweet, or totally putrid?

 Smell is easily described when writing.  You come downstairs after a good night’s sleep to the aroma of fresh brewing coffee and bacon frying in the pan.  However, it’s those bad smells that seem to stick with you.  Like the rank smell of three week old pizza languishing in the refrigerator or the reeking smell of burned hardboiled eggs permeating throughout the house…for days.

The sense of Touch can also be fun.  Like slime, or frogs or warty skin.  Like the dry feel of snake skin, which surprises some, since snakes are many times described as slimy creatures.  Or the soft and silky feel of a kitten. 

Here is an example, by writer Sarah Todd, of how all five senses can be used to describe a simple scene:

            The apple was bright green, its skin polished and shining as it nestled in the fruit bowl (sight).  The scent was fresh, as though the fruit had just been plucked from the tree (smell).  She took it from the bowl, her fingers closing around the firm smooth skin (touch). The apple crunched loudly (sound) as her teeth cut through the skin into the tart, juicy flesh (taste).  As the fresh juice ran down her throat she noticed a small black speck moving slowly in the creamy flesh. Closer inspection revealed that she hadn’t just taken a bite from the apple-she’d bitten through a fat, juicy worm. 

I’ll be checking my apples from now on before taking a bite, how about you?

S. A. Barone

Shirley is a published children’s writer. She has publishing credits in Highlights for Children, Turtle, Children’s Playmate, Humpty Dumpty, and Chicken Soup for the Pre-teen Soul. Shirley  has won a Distinguished Meritorious Service Award from the California School Boards Association for authoring an elective program that was adopted in schools in the Western United States and in areas of New York City. To learn more about Shirley and her art, visit www.sabarone.com

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