The Five Senses


(Picture Source: Public Domain

I have recently been working on some material for the novel which involves less constant action and is more passive, hopefully conveying a little background to the reader and providing the work with more depth. In this respect, I was very fortunate to read an article by Barbara Dynes in the latest issue of Writers' Forum, whereby she elaborates on the use of the five senses in writing so as to bring the text to  life. In the narrative for any story, the descriptive will tend err towards the visual as the author is trying to set the scene for the reader as vividly as possible. However, by no means does this need to be limited to this one sense – all five can be utilised effectively to engage the imagination. After all, those who will eventually read the story are the most important, for without them the author is nothing.

As well as visual narrative, the writer should also add in sound, smell, touch and taste into the story to give it more animation. For instance, if you are setting a scene whereby a character is eating a meal, not only could you describe the process of eating but also include how the food tastes, what it smells like, what sounds are going on around the character whilst he or she is eating etc. By using this method, you are stimulating the mind of the reader on a subconscious level to actually experience the story for themselves, something which I'm very keen to achieve in my own writings.

Consequently, I tried using this technique during the course of my writing this week, and already I've found that it was making a substantial difference. Funnily enough, I am interested in NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) and I had intended to try and incorporate its principles into my writing style at some point. As one of its key features, NLP puts an emphasis on the five senses as a means of communicating information, as well as defining how different people view the world in different ways. This article succeeded in motivating me to consider this approach and, as a consequence, I found myself enjoying my writing to a far greater extent, because it felt a little more realistic and less one dimensional. I may be able to master dialogue but I find narrative can be a little more challenging. I'm hoping that this approach might give a little more richness to the text of the book. After all, one of the aims is to get people thinking, as well as give them a cracking good read!


About Owen Law

My pen-name is ‘Owen Law’ (real name: Nicholas Davies.) I’m a science fiction writer specialising in dystopian/apocalyptic visions of the future. I’m from Shropshire, England (on the borders with Wales) and I’m in my forties. I have a background in public services and training. I’ve been working on my first novel, Dragon Line, since 2008. I’ve also written several short stories, one of which you can find on this blog (‘Matilda Leviathan‘). I now reside on the border of Shropshire and Wales, and my interests include writing (of course!), current affairs and environmental issues.
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