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Thursday, 13 October 2016 17:57

Use the Five Senses in your writing

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I recently asked my students to write, and try to include the five senses--sight, smell, taste, touch, and hearing--in their essay. These high school students wrote these passages. Watch for how they involve the five senses in their writing.

But first, let's see some examples from professional writers. Note which of the five senses each author strikes.




It’s quiet. It’s early. My coffee is hot. The sky is still black. The world is still asleep. The day is coming.


In a few moments the day will arrive. It will roar down the track with the rising of the sun. The stillness of the dawn will be exchanged for the noise of the day. The calm of solitude will be replaced by the pounding pace of the human race. The refuge of the early morning will be invaded by decisions to be made and deadlines to be met. For the next twelve hours I will be exposed to the day’s demands. It is now that I must make a choice.


Because of Calvary, I’m free to choose. And so I choose.


I choose love. No occasion justifies hatred; no injustice warrants bitterness. I choose love. Today I will love God and what God loves.


I choose joy. I will invite my God to be the God of circumstance. I will refuse the temptation to be cynical… the tool of the lazy thinker. I will refuse to see people as anything less than human beings, created by God. I will refuse to see any problem as anything less than an opportunity to see God.


I choose peace. I will live forgiven. I will forgive so that I may live.


I choose patience. I will overlook the inconveniences of the world. Instead of cursing the one who takes my place, I’ll invite Him to do so. Rather than complain that the wait is too long, I will thank God for a moment to pray. Instead of clinching my fist at new assignments, I will face them with joy and courage.


I choose kindness. I will be kind to the poor, for they are alone. Kind to the rich, for they are afraid. And kind to the unkind, for such is how God has treated me.


I choose goodness. I will go without a dollar before I take a dishonest one. I will be overlooked before I will boast. I will confess before I will accuse. I choose goodness.


I choose faithfulness. Today I will keep my promises. My debtors will not regret their trust. My associates will not question my word. My wife will not question my love. And my children will never fear that their father will not come home.


I choose gentleness. Nothing is won by force. I choose to be gentle. If I raise my voice, may it be only in praise. If I clench my fist, may it be only in prayer. If I make a demand, may it be only of myself.


I choose self-control. I am a spiritual being. After this body is dead, my spirit will soar. I refuse to let what will rot, rule the eternal. I choose self-control. I will be drunk only by joy. I will be impassioned only by my faith. I will be influenced only by God. I will be taught only by Christ. I choose self-control.


Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithful-ness, gentleness, and self-control. To these I commit my day. If I succeed, I will give thanks. If I fail, I will seek His grace. And then, when this day is done, I will place my head on my pillow and rest.


--Max Lucado, in his daily devotional, Grace for the Moment  


This passage is from a book that's the total opposite of a daily devotional: It's from Part 3, Ch. 1 in George Orwell's classic, 1984, describing a woman in a prison cell with the main character, Winston.

 "She leant forward and vomited copiously on the floor(....) She put a vast arm round his shoulder and drew him towards her, breathing beer and vomit into his face."


Now, here are some writing samples from some online students. Note how they draw on the five senses in their writng.


Looking for a fun place to go to with your friends? Looking for a place to relax from the stress of reality? A water park is the place to go. With the breath-taking water slides and the beautiful scenery that their hotel brings, this is the best place for everyone! Along with the unforgettable experience water parks can bring, the food they serve is also spectacular: sweet donuts, spicy chicken, salty pretzels, sour lemon pies -- but nothing bitter! I promise your mouths will water the moment you smell these irresistible delicacies. To make your meal even better, there's usually a performance of some kind for you to enjoy. With the performers' voices shining bright in the darkness of the restaurant, these loud, yet stunning voices are the ones you will never forget. For me, the best part for some of these water parks is that they have sections in which you can go in and interact with some of the most adored marine animals, such as dolphins. For an affordable price, you can feel the dolphin's sleek body and unique shape, which is without a doubt one of the most memorable things that you can do in a water park. All in all, if you're looking for some excitement, water parks are the choice!

--Aaron, Hsinchu, Taiwan


Fear is like a crimson rose: it will start small in your heart, but once you give it some nutrients, it will start to grow; before you even notice it, it will devour your soul. Fear also has a very distinct smell. It is like a blooming rose: the smell, bittersweet, will pervade until everyone senses it. Fear can also be thoroughly tasted, if one is paying enough attention to what it is. Fear can be said as one's greatest opponent, for he is the master dueler: he binds you mentally, weakens you physically, and most important of all: he knows you, but he is a total stranger to you. He strikes from every side, parries, and counters your offenses. To defeat him, you must understand him. His hide might feel rough, but once you understand, he is defenseless.                                     

     --Tim, Hsinchu, Taiwan


Are you looking to put more punch in your writing? Look for ways to enlist the five senses, to elicit a deeper emotional or physical response in your writing!

Contact Scott today to find out how can help you, right where you are!


Read 7186 times Last modified on Thursday, 27 July 2017 21:30
Scott Dreyer

A licensed teacher in the US state of Virginia since 1987, Scott Dreyer has been helping Chinese speakers improve their English since 1989. Dreyer lived in Taiwan from 1989-1999 where he learned Mandarin, met his wife, started his family, and realized he loved working with Chinese students. He became an award-winning author and started teaching ESL online in 2008. Dreyer and his wife and their four adult children make their home in the beautiful Roanoke Valley in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia.

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