Writers in the Storm

A blog about writing

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November 18, 2010

Using Your 5 Senses

By Charlotte Carter

In every writing class, students are taught to enrich their storytelling skills by using the 5 senses to draw readers into the scene. SIGHT SOUND TOUCH TASTE SMELL

Old hat? Hm, not when it’s done right.

Look what Lori Wilde, NY Times best selling author, has done with SMELL in one short paragraph in her latest book, The First Love Cookie Club from Avon. (Page 117)

“A blast of delicious aromas wrapped around Sarah, teased her nose, and drew her forward (into a bakery). . . .

The fragrance of yeast was the strongest scent. It rolled over her, thick and rich as homebrewed beer. A march of other smells trooped behind – the sharp slice of cinnamon cleaving through the yeasty envelope, the slick slap of butter, the friendly embrace of vanilla. And bringing up the rear, the subtle but undeniable whisper of almond.”

Look at those vivid action verbs: wrapped, teased, drew, rolled, march, trooped, cleaving, slap, embrace, whisper. There is only one ‘to be’ verb (was) in this entire section. And none in the paragraph that follows. Spectacular writing!

Notice the string of sibilant sounds she uses to emphasize the scents: yeast, strongest scent, smells, sharp slice of cinnamon, slick slap, embrace, subtle, whisper. Wow! Totally awesome. Read it aloud and feel those sibilant sounds slip between your teeth.

No wonder Lori’s book has been #25 on the NY Times list for three weeks! No wonder she also teaches writing.

This one paragraph ought to be in every How To Write book and her book ought to be required reading.  

Charlotte Carter

 Books that leave you smiling from Love Inspired

     Montana Hearts, available 12/1/10

     Big Sky Reunion, 5/2011

0 comments on “Using Your 5 Senses”

    1. Thanks, Horner. I love Lori Wilde's writing. That little segment blew me away. What a role model she is.
      Charlotte Carter

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