Pamela Koehne-Drube

Written by

Pamela Koehne-Drube

26 December 2022


How to Bring Your Writing to Life with Sensory Language

User sensory language - Photo by Karolina Grabowska for Pexels

Do you want to transport your readers to another world, to make them feel the emotions of your characters as if they were their own? Then it’s time to bring some sensory language into your writing.

Sensory language refers to words and phrases that describe the five senses: sight, sound, taste, touch, and smell. By using these types of words, you can help your readers experience the events and feelings you’re describing in a more immersive and vivid way.

Here are some tips for using sensory language to bring your writing to life:

1. Get Specific

The more specific you can be in your descriptions, the more your readers will be able to visualize and experience what you’re describing. Instead of simply saying, “the forest was beautiful,” try including specific details about the sights, sounds, and smells the character experiences while walking through the forest. As an over-the-top example, you might say instead “the sun filtered through the canopy of trees, dappling the forest floor in patches of golden light. The crisp scent of pine filled the air, and the rustling of leaves underfoot added a gentle soundtrack to the walk.”

Specific details can also help bring your characters to life and make them feel more real to your readers. Instead of saying, “they were sad,” try describing physical actions and surroundings to convey emotion. For example, you might say, “tears welled up in her eyes as she stared at the photo, her hand shaking as she traced the lines of her loved one’s face. The room was silent except for the soft sniffles that escaped her lips.”

2. Mix It Up

Don’t rely on just one sense in your writing. Mix it up and use sensory language from different senses to create a more well-rounded and immersive experience for your readers. For example, instead of simply saying, “the meal tasted good,” try including sensory language from different senses to give your readers a fuller understanding of the experience. You might say, “the sizzling aroma of grilled vegetables filled the air, and the vibrant colors of the roasted peppers, rainbow carrots, and pumpkin made my mouth water with autumnal impatience. The crunch of the perfectly cooked asparagus and the smooth, creamy texture of the mashed potatoes made each bite a sensory delight.”

Mixing it up and using sensory language from different senses can also help you avoid repetition and keep your writing fresh and interesting. If you rely too heavily on one sense, your writing may become monotonous and less engaging.

use sensory language - Photo by Pixabay for Pexels

3. Show, Don’t Tell

Telling your readers how a character is feeling can be effective, but it can also be a bit of a cop-out. Instead, try using sensory language to show your readers how your character feels through their actions and surroundings. For example, instead of saying, “she was angry,” try saying, “her fists clenched at her sides, and her eyes narrowed as she glared at her opponent.” This type of description helps your readers experience the character’s anger in a more tangible and vivid way.

By giving behaviour clues through sensory language, it reminds readers of their own emotions, and they’ll more easily empathise with the characters you’re creating.

4. Play with Figurative Language

Similes and metaphors are a great way to bring some whimsy and creativity to your writing. By using figurative language, you can describe something by comparing it to something else, using words such as “like” or “as.” For example, you might say, “the music was like a warm embrace” or “her laughter was like a ray of sunshine breaking through the clouds.” These comparisons help your readers experience the music and laughter in a more imaginative and immersive way.

Just be careful not to overdo it. Too much figurative language can make your writing feel forced or artificial. Use it sparingly and make sure it fits with the tone and style of your writing.

5. Use Your Own Senses

When you’re writing, try to tap into your own senses and describe what you’re experiencing. This can help you develop more authentic and specific sensory language to use in your writing. For example, if you’re describing a sunset, close your eyes and try to recall the colours, the warmth of the sun on your skin, and the sound of the waves crashing against the shore. This can help you create a more immersive and vivid description for your readers.

By using these tips and incorporating sensory language into your writing, you can bring your words to life and make them more engaging for your readers. Whether you’re writing a novel, a short story, or even non-fiction, adding in some evocative language can help transport your readers to another world and make them feel the emotions of your characters as if they were their own. So go ahead, let your senses guide you and bring your writing to life!