The writer’s goal is to draw the reader into the scene and evoke a response. We experience the world through our senses. The language of the senses will transform the experience from abstract to concrete. Five basic senses immerse your reader into the scene: smell, taste, hearing, touch, and sight. The writer has to decide which of these senses will fit the context, whether one or in combination.
The sense of smell is strong and triggers an image for the reader. When writing, consider how a certain smell might prompt an emotion, or response. For example, one reader might remember the smell of a fresh apple pie cooling from the oven, the cinnamon or the apples.
Another reader remembers the taste of the apple pie on their tongue. A reader may not like the taste of a particular food you present in your scene. However, you have activated a response and have drawn them into the scene.
The sense of hearing can tug one back to a memory. Humans tend to filter out most sounds around them and focus on the ones important to them. Experts call these extraneous sounds, white noise. For example: describing a heavy sigh can reveal much larger issues happening in the scene. A powerful tool, hearing immerses the reader into your story, whether or not the character ignores the sound.
Touch is one sense all humans crave and learn as they move through their world. They discover early on the sensations of skin to skin interactions of being held, then skin on objects through the feel of hot or cold. For instance, to touch a wound can trigger pain and deep emotion.
The sense of sight provides detail descriptions to enlighten humans and enable them to understand their surrounding world. A writer can use sight to immerse the reader into the scene and clarify the image. It is the most used tool in description.
Using all the senses in your writing brings deeper immersion. The sight of a bloom just opened reveals its beauty. The touch of the petals reminds you of its silky texture. Hear the buzz of the bee nearby? The sweet fragrance lingers on your tongue like sweet honeysuckle. This described experience makes use of all the basic senses mentioned above, a technique to be practiced by every writer. Take notes on how other writers use sensory details to provoke a response.
Look at your own work and examine how the use of a detail creates a gateway for the reader entering and responding to the scene, in other words, to hook your reader.
Lisa Osborn has loved writing since an early age, which has developed into many styles of expression through writing.