If you’re like me, writing with sensory detail is one of the easiest techniques to forget to do.
Thankfully, it’s also one of the easiest things to fix!
Here’s what I do:
First I write my first draft. Whether it is an article, a picture book, or a scene in a middle grade novel, I write it without worrying about getting it perfect.
Then (and it’s usually an afterthought!) I go back through and look for a way to add one sensory detail to that magazine article, picture book, or scene or chapter. Usually, all it takes is just adding one sentence. But the results? Suddenly readers are transported through time and space and are RIGHT THERE in the story because they can touch or smell or taste the world of the character.
For example, in the April 2006 issue of Clubhouse Jr. I wrote a fictional story about a little girl named Siloam who was a cousin of Jesus. He was her favorite relative! So when she experienced His death and resurrection, it became the most unforgettable Passover she would ever have. Here is the paragraph without any sensory details:
Siloam couldn’t believe it. There must be some mistake. Why would anyone arrest Jesus? He is gentle and kind! Jesus was her favorite relative. This can’t be happening! she thought. But it was.
Now here is that same paragraph after I went back in and added one sentence of sensory details:
Siloam couldn’t believe it. There must be some mistake. Why would anyone arrest Jesus? He is gentle and kind! Siloam remembered the feeling of His scratchy robe against her cheek when He hugged her close. Jesus was her favorite relative. This can’t be happening! she thought. But it was.
Now you try it! Look at the manuscript you’re working on. Make a list of the five senses: taste, touch, sight, hearing, and smell. Choose one and add a sentence in a scene or certain section about experiencing that sense. Now your readers will be RIGHT THERE in the scene, too!
-contributed by Nancy I. Sanders