I bet you have heard “Show. Don’t tell.” What does that mean? And how does one do it?
Answer: Sensory detail.
As described in Imagery and Sensory Detail ala Adair Lara Prompt #277:
- Make a list of images
- Expand into sentences
- Use sensory detail
Not interested in making a list? You are welcome to use any of the 33 ideas listed below to start sensory writing. Or just look around, choose items within your view, and write, using sensory detail, of course. Scroll to bottom of this post for links about using sensory detail in writing.
Expand these images into full sentences, using sensory detail. Write as if you had to describe these visions to someone who has never seen or experienced these things.
What do these things look like? How do they sound, taste, feel, smell? Answer these questions and that’s using sensory detail in writing.
Write a sentence using these impressions, expand into a paragraph, a short story, a poem.
- The musky smell of tomatoes on the vine in the heat of the warm summer sun.
- The smell of a freshly mowed lawn.
- The rustle of a plastic bag.
- The burnt smell of overly cooked popped corn. Burnt popcorn.
- The smell of popcorn when walking past a movie theatre.
- The sound of someone blowing their nose into a tissue.
- Blaring music from a passing car.
- The sharp intake of breath when hearing that a friend died.
- Brown freckled skin of a soft banana.
- Gears grinding.
- Wind chimes.
- Dew on the lawn.
- Morning mist.
- San Francisco cable cars.
- Crunchy pickles
- Snap of a fresh green been
- Strawberries, fresh from the vine
- Licking a stamp
- Shaking a rug
- Dust flying
- Fingers curled over keyboard – striking/ready to strike
- Hands on stomach. Too much watermelon.
- Swish of wash cycle
- Hands folded in prayer.
- Heads bowed.
- Grieving for what the person could have been but never was.
- He phoned yesterday with a single question that I answered in an instant.
- She didn’t mean to tell me so many sordid details and revealing incidents, but I’m glad she did.
- He uncorked the bottle, releasing maggots.
- She took the lid off and let some of the fireflies escape.
- I could feel her pain and had to be careful to not let her pain become my pain.
Posts on The Write Spot Blog about sensory detail:
The “Queen of Sensory Detail” explains how to how to describe a character that gets into the essential details of the person: Elizabeth Berg Shows How To Demystify Character