The Senses


We live in a sensory world. Use the five senses to create realism, mood and to move the story on. It’s also a good way of describing a character (for example, someone might smell particularly nasty or have an irritating voice). Don’t use it just for the sake of it and don’t get too bogged down in description.


What does your character see? How does it link into your story? Maybe they can sense something’s there, but can’t see it. Does this build tension? Things to look out for when ‘showing’ what a  character sees: colours, textures, shadows, the feel of a scene (for instance, scary or safe), weather on the horizon, something that’s not there or out of the corner of his or her eye.


What does your character hear and how does it make them feel? What is the sound and why is it there? Is the sound clear? Fuzzy? Painful? Delightful? Soothing? Causing anxiety? Does it mean something bad is coming? Is it scary? Maybe it’s a welcome sound. Maybe it’s a sound he or she just can’t identify!


Is there a particular taste in the air? Or does your character taste something? How does taste link into your story? Is it part of the plot or a way of fleshing out your character? Perhaps they are eating something that they particularly love. Tastes include salty, sweet, sour, savoury (umami) and bitter.


What does your character smell and how does it make them feel? Fresh cut grass? Fire? Food? Something magical? Gunfire? How does it link with your story? Smell can also invoke a memory (good or bad); reminding your character of something that happened in the past or someone they once knew. Different types of smells include: woody, fragrant (for instance flowers or perfumes), fruity, sharp, chemically, minty, sweet, disgusting (like vomit, kids love books with vomit in it (not literally, you understand, just stories where characters up-chuck!)) and citrus


How do things feel to your character? Maybe they are also the type of people who like to touch others as part of their way of  communicating – patting them on the arm or gently touching their arm?

And don’t forget there’s also…

The Sixth Sense: sensing as though something is there that you can’t explain; a creepy feeling, uncomfortable.