Sensory Details

Open Book StampHello and welcome to another installment of Open Book Blog Hop. Today we’re talking about sensory details in writing, or more specifically, infusing sensory details into writing – how do you do it or do you do it? Does it just flow as you write or is it part of the rewrite process, a deliberate choice? Does too much sensory detail in writing bother you or do you wish there was more in today’s writing?

So, to start let’s infuse a little sensory detail.

Mary went outside to get the paper.  No sensory detail in that sentence.  Let’s try again.

Mary turned the cold metal handle to step outside into the frigid Wisconsin morning. The paper, which no doubt would be cold and damp from the heavy fall dew lay waiting for her in the orange plastic box at the end of the driveway. The birds were chirping and singing, the heavy air carried with it the aroma of fall mums and freshly cut grass. She shivered as she pulled the newspaper from it’s resting place and carried it back into the warm house and her waiting cup of coffee.

Do you see any sensory detail in that paragraph? “cold metal handle” “frigid Wisconsin morning” “cold and damp”, “heavy fall dew” “orange plastic box” “birds were chirping and singing” “aroma of fall mums and freshly cut grass”, “warm house” each are a sensory detail.

When you add anything from the senses, sight, sound, smell, touch, and taste, you are bringing the reader into the story by giving them descriptions of things they understand and can relate to.  There is quite a bit of difference between the first sentence and the first paragraph after.

How do I do it?  I do it as I write. I need to get into the story as well as a reader. I find that I get into it more if I’m seeing, feeling, smelling, tasting and hearing what my characters are sensing.  But, that said, sometimes I just need to get the words down.  When that happens, I’ll go back in and add some detail.

Does too much sensory detail bother me?  I’d have to say yes.  I don’t have the patience to read through minutia unless it has something important to do with the story.  I love the Outlander series – on television – I tried reading the books and couldn’t do it.  So, for me, I want the detail but only if it’s important to the story.

How do you feel about it?  Do you like a lot of detail or just enough to get you into the story?

Let’s see what my fellow Open Bookers’ think.  And if you want to join us in chatting about this, click on the InLinkz Link below and sign up.


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4 thoughts on “Sensory Details”

  1. There is definitely a balance to be struck. That balance depends on the writer, but it also depends on the reader. I like sensory details in what I read, but I know people who want it pretty minimalistic. I doubt we would enjoy the same books.

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