In all of my writing classes, yes even composition, we talk about the senses. We talk about how they can enrich the writing, personalize it. We also talk about using senses that are most appropriate for the topic. For example, if I task you with writing a description of the room you are in right now, I wouldn’t expect, for example, for you to lick the carpet and tell me what it tastes like. (And if you did it on your own, as a reader, I might worry about you…)
I know that I’m a visual person. I learn best by seeing – and then by trying to replicate (kinesthetic is my second learning style). So it surprises no one that my ‘go to’ sense for writing is visual.
It wasn’t until my friend, Cody (who has beta read two of my manuscripts so far – Lucy’s story and the YA manuscript), kept commenting that he wanted to know how everything smelled that I realized I have a a sense I practically never use. After this discovery, I did ask him if he lived his life ‘nose first,’ and it turns out, he does – it wasn’t that I was describing things that demanded smell and ignoring it – it was all about how he lived his life and therefore what he expected to find in the pages. Of course, I don’t usually have this same experience – sight is generally the most used sense in writing, especially in creative writing.
For some of the instances he wanted more description of scent, I’d have to return to the locations in order to figure that out. Unfortunately, that would involve a plane ride across an ocean. (Not that I wouldn’t go back to Scotland in heartbeat…)
I’d be curious – what senses do you use most when writing? What do you look for when reading? Are there senses that you have to work extra hard to make sure you include?