Hello young writer! You would have heard the saying, “No laughter in the writer, no laughter in the reader”. If you haven’t, well, now you have. To write moving stories or articles requires a lot more than the knowledge of grammar. You need to empathise with your readers, put yourself in their shoes, transport them into your world or invite yourself into theirs. This means, whatever you want your readers to feel, you would have to feel it first. This is the only way you can vividly describe an experience giving accurate context. How does it look, smell, taste, feel, and sound? Here is how you write using your five sense organs:
Your Eyes for the Sight: Your sight can tell you the shapes and colours of objects and people. Describe what you want your readers to see with their ‘mind’s eye’ with the shapes and colours. A person could have a round or an oblong face, their skin could be like dark chocolate or a lighter shade of brown that looks like just the right amount of milk mixed in coffee. Use figures of speech to make comparisons between the object in sight and a related object that matches it in your reader’s imagination. Learn more in 5 Ways To Make Your Writing Memorable.
Your eyes can also tell you how bright or dark the weather is, how shiny or dull an object may look when it reflects light, how fast or slow an object is moving, and how transparent or opaque the glass or curtains are. You can determine the distance between people and objects, how high and how wide, beautiful, ugly, dusty, clean.
Your Nose for the Smell: The smell released into the air from people and objects can find their way into your nostrils. You can tell if an object is new or rusty by smelling them. You can also guess the kind of food being cooked by perceiving the aroma. You can tell that something is fresh or has gone bad too. Smells come off as sweet, fragrant, neutral or bad.
In further descriptions, something or someplace could smell damp and the odour you get could attach some meaning to your words. For example, ‘the room is filled with the smell of old books and cockroaches’. It may mean that someone has not entered the room for a long time.
Your Tongue for the Taste: Edible or inedible objects can be subjects of taste. For example, You can describe foods, snacks and drinks as sweet, bitter, salty, sour or spicy. In further descriptions, your characters may develop a sense of taste from their feelings — bitter regret, sweet revenge. In these situations, they do not taste something bitter or sweet on their tongues, but they use it to express regret or revenge.
Describing the tastes of food or feelings of your character helps your readers feel the same way your characters think, making them enjoy reading your work.
Your Skin for the Feeling: Just like you can sometimes tell your characters’ feelings through their sense of taste, so can you when they come in contact with external objects on their skins. For example, the weather could be hot or cold, misty or warm. You could describe how hard the wind is blowing by how their clothes flap painfully against their skin or how cold they are as their lips tremble and teeth chatter. You could tell how hot they feel by describing the amount of sweat trickling down their skin or how they suddenly drop the pot from the cooker.
Other feelings that your skin can sense includes tingles, itchiness, hardness, softness, roughness or smoothness, heaviness or lightweight. In further descriptions, your characters could feel the presence or absence of other characters.
Your Ears for the Sound: Sounds help to tell stories in many different ways. Often, it is easier to describe the other sense organs to your reader so they can imagine. However, sounds help to complete the picture in your reader’s imagination. Is the sound loud, low, sharp, soft or strained?
The figure of speech used to describe sounds is called onomatopoeia. It is the art of using words to describe sounds adequately, such as the ‘screeeeech’ of a car tire or the ‘hisssssing’ of a snake. Another example is the ‘whistle’ of a kettle of boiling water which makes your reader imagine the sound of a whistle while picturing it with the kettle. Also, you could describe the sound of a drum with ‘dom dom dom’ or a sneeze with an ‘achu!’
You have enjoyed the books you have read because the authors told the stories using their five sense organs. Now that you will be an author, it is time for you to do the same!