One of the best ways to write a good descriptive piece is to think about the five senses. Sight is a commonly used sense, as it’s usually the one we rely on most, but what about sound? What about touch or taste or smell? A few writing exercises focused on different senses might be just what you need to write amazing descriptive scenes.
3 Writing Exercises to Connect With Your Senses
The things you see are great, but it’s all too easy to forget your other senses are powerful tools to immerse your readers in your story, too. Here are three writing exercises you can use to explore the senses in your writing.
1. Close your eyes
Take a second to close your eyes and stay still. Maybe you’re in your bedroom, maybe you’re in a coffee shop, or you could be sitting on your back porch. Whether it’s someplace old or new, try not to focus on the things you saw when you walked in.
Take deep breaths and write down what you smell. Then focus on the sounds around you. What’s the temperature like? Are you eating something? Don’t worry about if what you’re writing is good or not; just record everything you can think of.
2. Write from a different point of view
It might be hard to block out one of your senses in favor of another one, but sometimes people don’t have a choice.
What if you’re writing from the point of view of someone who’s deaf or blind? You’ll have to practice relying on your other senses if you want to accurately portray them in writing.
Maybe your protagonist is a dog. Dogs use their sense of smell a lot.
Maybe it’s a baby. Babies often stick strange objects in their mouth. How would you describe what the objects taste like?
Stepping into someone else’s shoes is one of the best things you can do to better explore your senses when you write.
3. Make lists
Think of a place you visit frequently. It could be the grocery store, a restaurant, a friend’s house, anywhere that you’ve been for long periods of time.
Now write down each of the fives senses and think of the things you could put in each section.
For example, if I were going to describe the park I go to in the summer, my list might look something like this.
- Wide open
- Birds chirping
- The squeak of sneakers as toddlers try to climb up the slide
- Rustling leaves
- The creaking of old swings
- The crunch of gravel as cars pull in
- The tickling of grass on bare feet
- Hot pavement
- Sun-soaked dirt
- Rough mulch
- Thick, warm air
- Ice cold water
- Salty pretzels
Obviously some senses are going to be harder than others—taste is one I struggle with—but the point of these writing exercises is to branch out.
Enrich Your Writing With the Five Senses
You don’t have to use everything from your lists or your writing practices in your stories, but these are good ways to discover some new descriptors you may not have thought of before.
Of course, you don’t want to inundate readers with details they don’t need. But a few well-placed descriptors drawing on the senses can immerse your readers in your story’s world. Who knows—maybe they’ll never want to leave!
How do you explore the senses in your writing? Share in the comments section.