By: Carla King
Sight is the most obvious of the senses to invoke when depicting a scene in your written work, but your visual descriptions will benefit when you incorporate your other senses to enrich your writing.
First drafts of most travelogues are full of rich, visual detail, but often fall short on smells, tastes, sounds, and feelings. I’ve learned to add an editing round to incorporate all the senses, and am constantly surprised at all the new memories that are conjured up and the rich expansion of each scene. I’ve noticed that quite a lot of nice metaphors and similes come out of this exercise, too.
The most obvious and easiest of the senses to describe, sight delivers on color and texture and important aspects of scenes like landscapes, cityscapes, objects, and faces. Your visual descriptions will often benefit from the addition of another sense or two.
The sense of smell is the most closely linked with memory, and is highly emotive, as perfumers know. For example, you might transport the reader to a seaside village on a Croatian island by describing the slightly sweet, putrid scent of seaweed baking at low tide in the late afternoon sun.
Did you know that at least 75% of is taste actually formed from smell? Taste can be broken down into five areas: salty, bitter, sweet, sour, and umami, a Japanese word meaning “pleasant savory taste.” So the aroma of that rotting seaweed contributes more than you might realize to the taste of the oyster you just slurped.
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