Touch. Smell. Taste. Hear. See.
There is so much more to writing than just translating what you can see in your mind’s eye into words. We experience the world through five senses so there is no reason why your character doesn’t experience their world in the same way (unless you’re writing about aliens with different biological systems in which case, I still have a point – creative writing can be about what you leave out as well as what you put in).
Of course, I don’t mean that every single sentence of your writing should include absolutely everything but, think about when you’re most conscious of your surroundings and the way you react to them. For example, when you’re really scared innocuous noises can sound louder and more ominous. Or if you’re happy then you might want more hugs or high-fives than usual.
Sight isn’t always going to be the first sense to react to a change in the environment. If your character is trapped in a pitch black room then they’re going to be using their senses of hearing, smell and possibly touch to navigate as they won’t be able to rely on their eyes.
Using these different, varied approaches to a scene allows you to create a more relatable character for the reader so, ask yourself, ‘Is my character going to be reacting via this sense in this situation?’ It’s alright to pick and choose but, changing the approach from time to time goes a long way to keeping your writing fresh and exciting.
To really think about including all five senses in a scene I have a writing exercise that I thought about after reading an amazing short piece of writing which made my mouth water even though the characters were only sharing a simple meal.
Think about your favourite food. Feed your character the meal and write about their experience. Think about them using every sense during the meal.
I find that if you’re describing a meal that you genuinely enjoy then you’ll want to do it justice. The prompt might sound a bit simple but once you start thinking about every element it is not so easy because you want the reader to feel connected to your writing. Making a reader feel hungry because you’re writing about food can be great practise in cultivating this connection.
I hope that you have fun when you’re writing.