Have you ever played the game Taboo? The objective of this game is for a player to have her partner(s) guess the word on her card without using the word itself or five additional words listed on the card. For example, the player might have to get her team to deduce the word “banana” without offering the words “yellow,” “fruit,” “split,” “Chiquita,” “peel,” or “bunch” as clues. What the player could say is: This is a food you eat on the top of a bowl filled with cereal and milk. The skin on this food is the color of sunlight. Curious George went gaga over this food.
Finding interesting and unique ways to describe a scene adds panache. Writing with your senses draws the reader into your world.
Using your senses to paint a picture of what you–or your character–sees, hears, feels, tastes, and smells, creates atmosphere and interest for your readers. Rich descriptions are the next best thing to being there.
Stop what you’re doing for a moment. Take a look around you, peer out your window. What do you see? Write down your observations in several different ways. Try to avoid using adjectives. For example, a flock of birds overhead could be described as: wings and beaks filled the sky.
Now close your eyes. What do you hear? Tick-tock, tick-tock fills the silence. My father’s “best friend” now lives with us, sitting proudly on the mantle, marking the passage of minutes and hours, steady and true like my father’s heartbeat.
That sandwich you had for lunch? Take a minute and describe it, in luscious, mouth-watering detail. How did it smell? Feel in your mouth? When you took a bite, were there any sounds? Describe the color of the cheese or a detail from the bread. Make me, the reader, want that sandwich.
Dig deep into your imagination, your memories. Use these images and associations to add life to your writing. Your reader should be able to see it, feel it, hear it, smell it, and taste just as you did.
Step outside. Take in the world around you. Then make your senses come alive with words.