The Importance of Using All Five Senses When Writing Descriptions

“Showing, not telling” is a writing cliché for a reason. Telling a reader exactly what’s happening creates a different experience than if a character hears, sees, touches, smells, and feels what’s happening around them. Showing a world in this way triggers a reader’s imagination and puts them in the middle of the story. John Wilkerson, sci-fi author, journalist, and ghostwriter, explains the nuances of using all five sentences in a story. Because people experience the world with all five senses, our characters should as well. However, many people rely on a primary sense to interact with their surroundings. An author should know and use a character’s primary sense or senses to put the reader into the story. Wilkerson says that an often-overlooked sense is smell. This is a particularly important sense to incorporate into writing because of the memories and backstory that a single scent can conjure. Two other senses that Wilkerson talks about are seeing and hearing. Specifically, he explains how a sense can affect verb choice. Listen to the clip below to hear how using sense can both immerse the reader and prompt better word choice and sentence structure!

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