Sensory Writing is Sensational!
Reading and writing are by nature very visual activities, but most people have five senses: sight, smell, taste, hearing, and touch. The more sensory perceptions you are able to engage in your writing, the more your reader will be able to experience your story almost first-hand. That’s a very good thing! Stories that seem real have a tendency to suck us right into the action. Learn to enhance sensory perception by tickling your readers’ other senses, and you’ll write a story they can’t put down.
Let’s expand our imaginations a little.
How would you describe a color to someone who could not see? What might red sound like? How would purple smell? Can you taste orange? If you touched blue, would it feel cold or hot? Would pink feel hard or soft?
- Pick a color. Close your eyes and let your imagination wander. Jot down any metaphors that come to mind that would describe how that color smells, tastes, sounds, or feels.
- Now pick another color and try again!
- Please feel free to post any examples you come up with!
Below you’ll find some examples compiled from my writing students at the Brazos Valley Co-op.
White: Feels like a swan’s soft down feathers and fluffy snow. It tastes sweet like marshmallows on hot chocolate. It smells like clean clothes and freshly folded laundry.
Silver: Sounds like a sword being drawn out of a sheath
Gray: Feels like depression, cold, metal and loneliness. It sounds like rain and a cold wind. It feels heavy and coarse like wool or horse hair. It is like a mystery, tumbling, swirling like smoke. Gray sounds like a deep bell ringing. It smells like gunpowder and steel. It rings in your ears like the dispatch of cannon and musketry. It tastes bitter, like ashes in your mouth. Gray is a war ship, silent, slipping up on its prey. It is history and tradition. It is a secret—just a whisper, floating on a wafting breeze.
Black: is the feeling of emptiness and sorrow—cold, alone, hopeless, desperate. It sounds like quiet whispers of despair. It feels and smells like tar. It is a bottomless pit falling into eternity. Black tastes like licorice. Black is still, glassy water. Black is magnetic. It feels like polished granite. Black is a snake hissing before it strikes. It is like a spilled bottle of ink, seeping into all the dark little corners and crevices. It is your arch-enemy’s cold, cruel heart. It tastes smooth, rich, and bittersweet. Black shouts volumes with the mysterious voice of silence. It lingers in the tiny nooks and crannies of that old abandoned house down the lane. Black feels like nothingness. It envelops the entirety of space. Black is nowhere and everywhere. Black is encompassing.
Brown: sounds like the coffee grinder. Brown smells like burning cedar and hot cocoa. It feels like the rough bark on a tree. Brown sounds like a song on an old violin.
Pink: is a baby’s blanket, warm and comforting. It is the softest cloud. Pink feels like a caress. It is smooth like a rose petal. It tastes like cotton candy. It smells like a strawberry. Pink sounds like a silk skirt swishing around. It sounds like a giggle. Pink is the color of happiness.
Red: is vibrant and hot. It smells like blood. It sounds like a fire engine. Red is fast. Red is how your tongue feels after eating something spicy. It tastes like chili peppers. Red feels like walking barefooted on a hot sidewalk. It is that deep, warm, and exuberant feeling you get when you’re with someone you love. Red is passionate. Red smells like Valentine’s Day candies. Red feels like a sunburn. Red is clever, witty, vivacious, and subtly smart. It tastes spicy and sweet, like an apple with a touch of cinnamon. Red is juicy. It enhances and defines, excites and inspires, surprises and sooths. Red can be avoided, but it cannot be ignored. The stain of red cannot be removed. Red is unexpected
Orange: tastes like a popsicle on a hot July day. Orange is a liquid color—like orange juice. It smells like citrus—wet and tangy. It feels vibrant, bold, full of life. It is a beautiful sunset shared with friends.
Yellow: is how you feel when the whole day is going your way. It tastes tart like a freshly cut lemon or like cool lemonade on a hot day. It feels like sunshine gently pouring down on your face on a warm June morning. Yellow feels happy. It sounds like the birds waking up. It smells like bananas or like hay in the feeding trough. It feels soft like fuzzy chicks. If yellow were a person, she would dance everywhere she went.
Green: feels like the morning dew on the grass—cool on bare feet. It smells like the lawn after it has been mown. It feels like moss on the forest floor. It is the rainforest or a lush meadow or ferns or a greenhouse. Green sounds like clear crystalline chimes. It tastes like honeydew, limes, kiwi, tart apples, and sour pickles. Green feels refreshing, composed, and calming. It smells like fresh cut herbs or spearmint gum–clean, and relaxing. Green sounds like grasshoppers chirping.
Blue: feels like diving into a swimming pool on a hot summer day. It is the Christmas wind on your nose. Blue brings summer and winter together. It feels like the the first brisk morning when you walk outside and have to go back for a coat. Blue tastes like ice water. It feels like rain—a cloudburst. Blue is an iceberg. It is slippery like fish scales. It is like a gulp of fresh air. Blue sounds like the ocean—like waves splashing on the shore; smells like saltwater. It sounds water gurgling in a brook. It sounds like the wind. Blue smells like chlorine. It sounds like raindrops pitter-pattering on my rooftop.
Purple: feels hard like amethyst. It smells like oriental spices.