Adding Sense-sations to your writing

19 Feb

In the last few months we’ve had an abundance of holidays and celebrations—Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s, Valentine’s Day—and, in the case of my family, eight different birthdays. What a fabulous time for a toddler!

One of my two-year-old grandsons now claps his hands together and shouts “Birthday Cake!” every time the family gets together!

He has a real sweet tooth and wants the icing and not the cake! So it’s a scene full of senses – see (the cake) touch, (the cake), taste (the cake) smell (the icing) touch (the icing) taste (the icing) hear (Mommy say no more) hear (Max cry) touch (the icing) hear (Mommy say no again) etc. etc. A typical two-year-old testing scene.

I, for one, enjoy the colors, lights, fun (and food, of course) of each holiday. Experiencing them with young children adds a wonderful new dimension. The sounds, sights, smells and the magic of it all make each new experience shine.

In trying to decide what to write about for the blog, these recent memories reminded me how important it is to add senses to a scene.

I keep a typed list of the senses attached to my computer to remind me to use them. Invariably, though, I need to add more senses to scenes when I go through the editing process I call layering up.

What tricks or things do you do to make a scene richer by adding senses?


Posted by on February 19, 2013 in Idaho


14 responses to “Adding Sense-sations to your writing

  1. Jennifer

    February 19, 2013 at 6:45 PM

    I tend to focus mainly on the visual when I initially write a scene. I usually have to go back and revisualize the scene to add in the sounds, smells, etc.

    • Judith Keim

      February 20, 2013 at 4:36 PM

      Me, too. The visual so easy compared to the rest… Thanks!

  2. stephanieberget

    February 19, 2013 at 8:28 PM

    I need to add in the senses after I write too. Adding a list on your computer is a good idea. I think I’ll do that. Great post.

    • Judith Keim

      February 20, 2013 at 4:37 PM

      Thanks, Stephanie. I also post questions regarding a scene…that one isn’t used as much as I should…

  3. Janis McCurry

    February 20, 2013 at 7:24 AM

    I’m aware when I write about sound, as in dialogue, and sight, as in how characters are using body language and expressions. What I usually have to go back and add are the other senses! SIGH.

    • Judith Keim

      February 20, 2013 at 4:37 PM

      Oh, you’re right, Janis! Body language is such a big part of the visual. I need to work on that! Thanks!

  4. marsharwest

    February 20, 2013 at 7:47 AM

    Mostly, I add back in senses and emotions, too. But I’m better about including those (maybe not in the best form or the way they’ll ultimately be 🙂 ) at the beginning as I write than I used to be. Then they were just missing. Oh, golly, you mean I need to tell the reader how the character said that? Or show how they were feeling? LOL Yes, I’ve come a long way. But what I want to say is: it’s okay to layer back in afterwards. We don’t have to write it perfectly the first time (or even the 10th time), just before we submit the ms.
    Judith, I loved your description of the B’D celebrations. Sure made me want to eat some cake! 🙂

    • Judith Keim

      February 20, 2013 at 4:39 PM

      Hi, Marsha! Thanks for your comments. It’s a whole different ballgame with the grandkids…We’re loving being close to them after being so far away…

  5. Peggy Staggs

    February 20, 2013 at 10:18 AM

    I find that the senses are the thing that is left out the most. It’s too bad because you can paint a very vivid picture using the six senses. Yes, six. I always add intuition.

  6. Judith Keim

    February 20, 2013 at 4:40 PM

    Peggy, I love the intuition! That’s so important when you’re writing mysteries, like you are! Will have to think of that in the future! thanks…

  7. Lynn Mapp

    February 20, 2013 at 8:49 PM

    Judy! Why must you twist the knife? You’re touched a sore spot. I really need to work on this. Thanks for sharing your insight.

  8. Judith Keim

    February 21, 2013 at 5:38 PM

    Thanks, Lynn! I need as many reminders as I can get!!!

  9. maryvine

    February 21, 2013 at 6:12 PM

    This is a good reminder to put senses in. I’ve been too busy describing body language lately.

  10. Judith Keim

    February 21, 2013 at 9:07 PM

    I’m so visual it’s hard for me to remember other senses…


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