Weekly Writing Prompt: All Five Senses

Welcome to the upgraded version of Weekly Writing Prompt! We’ve made a couple changes, including a new forum where you can share responses/receive feedback. This forum has three sections (fiction/nonfiction/fanfiction) – there’ll be weekly prompts for each, all based on a common theme.

Ready to get started?

Weekly Writing Prompt: All Five Senses

One of the most powerful ways to engage readers is to make them feel like they’re part of the story. We attempt to paint a picture in their minds, which typically starts with our characters’ appearance. Readers know whether our protagonist has bright red hair. They know that our villain has a vicious scar on his left cheek. We rely heavily on sense of sight, describing everything from a stranger’s peculiar clothing to a decrepit line of buildings in the background.

Sense of sound is also well covered. Is a character shouting? Whispering? Does she speak in a low, throaty voice or is her tone high-pitched and girlish? The reader almost always knows these things, to the point where some characters are defined by them.

It’s the other three senses that are often underrepresented. True, some writers incorporate them more than others, but overall, sight/sound tend to dominate in fiction.

Want to test this theory? Take a look at one of your recent projects. Read through a page or two and count how many times you describe something through sight or sound. Now do the same for smell, taste, and touch.  Notice any imbalance?

Don’t get me wrong: I’m not saying all five senses must always be equally represented. But if there are one or more you tend to neglect, it’s good to make a conscious effort to incorporate them more often. This leads to more immersive, powerful writing, and… well, who doesn’t want that?

Prompt for Fiction Writers: Alternative Introduction

Often, when we encounter a new character, the narrator describes her in terms of appearance and sometimes tone of voice. Instead, introduce a new character by detailing how she smells, feels, or tastes. This will require a creative situation! (Source)

Prompt for Nonfiction Writers: Sensory Recollection

Recall a memory where another person had a strong effect on one of your other three senses (smell, taste, or touch). Write about this situation in detail, focusing on that dominant sense and how it felt to react to someone that way.

Prompt for Fanfiction Writers: Fiction Reimagined

Choose an existing scene from a favorite book, movie, or TV show and rewrite it in a way that only incorporates smell, taste, and touch. 

Feel free to respond to these in the forum! Clicking on a prompt title will take you to the appropriate thread.

Author: Heather

Heather is the owner/administrator of the Story Scribes community. She’s a prolific writer, web developer, and visual artist who spends every year counting down the days until NaNoWriMo.

4 thoughts on “Weekly Writing Prompt: All Five Senses”

  1. Love this prompt and how there is three options left for us within. Like Katherine I got so excited that my brain filled with images on how to tackle this one. Fun times! Thanks for that. Look foward to responding to more of these challenges and great exercises for the muse.

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