Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Writing to evoke the senses

What I'm writing: I've begun that edit of In the Shadow of Olympus - yay! Also working on a couple of short stories
What I'm reading: Still reading the same book as last post - haven't had a lot of time for reading in the last couple of days
What I'm knitting: Sweater - back is done, front is about a quarter done, sleeves not yet started.

I'm in the second week of lessons for the F2K free writing course. I'm really enjoying the course because the assignments so far have been challenging and though provoking and the social aspect, getting to chat with other writers, is great. I would definitely recommend this course to any writer. There will be classes starting in April and August.

For part of the second assignment, we had to write one sentence for each of the eight senses (yes, I said eight and will explain in a moment). Each sentence had to evoke the sense without coming right out and saying what it was. It was a fun experiment in writing descriptive sentences. It was so easy to get caught up in writing long, compound sentences so you could describe every last thing you wanted. But, of course, the simpler was better.

The senses: Sight, Hearing, Taste, Smell, Touch, Time (era, time of day, time of year, etc), Space (open or enclosed, crowded or empty, a certain place), Unknown (a sense of foreboding, danger, or anticipation).

So, would you like to play along? Can you guess which sense each sentence was written for? - Remember, it's one sense per sentence (hopefully even if more than one sense is hinted at, one will be more prevalent) and all eight senses are used. I'd love your feedback because the only way I know if it's a hit or a miss is if you tell me!

1. His aftershave hung in the air, spicy and sweet.

2. The floor of the narrow path was sparsely dappled by stray sunlight penetrating the thick canopy.

3. Ten grasping fingers, ten tiny toes, a shock of red hair falling over eyes the color of sky – perfection.

4. The watermelon lip gloss didn't turn him off nearly as much as the undertone of garlic.

5. I admired the textured patchwork of worn fabric and careful stitches.

6. As she's airlifted above the warped wreckage, the chaos below is drowned out by a rhythmic thwump, thwump, thwump.

7. The lights blinked off, throwing the attic bedroom into inky darkness.

8. I pulled my cardigan more snugly around my chest and shuffled through the crinkling leaves.

Thanks for playing along!


  1. Two comments lost, last try here:

    1. Smell
    2. Time
    3. Sight
    4. Taste
    5. Touch
    6. Hearing
    7. Unknown
    8. Space

    These sentences are beautifully written. Do you think that sensory experiences can be relative to each person's dominant sense?

    #2 could also be "space" though sunlight suggests daytime.

    #8 could also be "hearing" with the "crinkling leaves though "cardigan snugly around" gave me sense of space.

    So, how did I do? I've answered these three times and lost every comment so far. I had written so much more before.

    Very fun and great exercise. I loved it. Thanks for sharing.


  2. It really is a fun exercise - and sometimes you don't realize you've written to more than one sense until someone points it out.
    2 was meant to be space - deep woods, but time also works for it
    8 was meant to be time (autumn) though hearing and space also work with it.

    It really does seem to be subjective to how each person perceives the world. I found myself, when reading other students' sentences, picking out 'Sight' often and then (to me) a secondary sense - which was often the one they were conveying. I think I'm more of a visual person than any of the other senses.