October 16, 2019

Using All the Senses

By Paula Acton

As writers, we often focus on describing what our characters see, hear, and say but sometimes we fail to make use of the other senses in the same way.

Our sense of taste is very rarely used, unless, we are describing the characters eating a meal or the metallic zing of blood in their mouths, but when you consider how closely linked taste is to the sense of smell, it can be worth paying more attention to them in tandem.

Often it is not the actual smell or taste of something we are describing but rather the personal associations with it that can add an extra depth to a writer’s work.

It has long been suggested that if you are selling a house you should bake bread or brew fresh coffee prior to viewing, those smell evoking a sense of home, that the person looking around could have that lifestyle. Now, apply that to your writing, in romances image how the waft of the perfume or scent of a beloved one can evoke an almost physical reaction, a remembrance of embraces, but more than that the perfume itself can say more about your character. Think of the type of girl you think of wearing something soft and floral rather than heavy and musky, of how your own preferences change with age, change from day to night, many people have a signature scent that is associated with them.

The same applies to locations, you can describe a dark alley, but by adding a few smells it can transport the reader there and help build tension. If you are describing a scene by the sea then there is the smell of seaweed, and the sea but also that transposes with even the slightest breeze to the dryness of the characters lips and the saltiness as their tongue darts out to moisten them.
Of course, no one could possibly describe every taste, smell, or sensation experience in the tapestry of their stories, however, when used effectively you can enhance the immersive effects for the reader.
Born in Leeds, and currently residing in Huddersfield in the UK, Paula Acton explores the darker side of fiction. The short story collections feature twisted love stories in Disintegration & Other Stories, whilst Voices Across the Void explores ghostly tales. Her novels fall into dark, medieval fantasy with Ascension the first part of her Queen of Ages Trilogy has been met with five-star reviews from readers new to the genre. Mother to two children, and grandma to two, slave to two cats, and owner of a demented spaniel, any free time she gets she loves to curl up with a book. She is also a lover of board games, regularly can be found assisting in fending off the zombie apocalypse and listening to true crime podcasts. She can be found on Facebook, at her website -, on Instagram - Blog - and all her work is available on Amazon and on Kindle Unlimited.

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