Senses & POV Tips - Descriptive Writing


Senses & POV Tips for Descriptive Writing  By Deborah Lyn Stanley

We strengthen our writing by using descriptive details that develop the topic.
Today let’s talk more about using sense words and choosing the point-of-view.

Use description for fresh, active and believable prose. Write what you see, smell, taste, hear or touch, and include details:
•We write to help the reader see what we see.
•We augment sight with smell to build the vision. Smell has the longest memory of all the senses. English Leather cologne takes me back to dating years with my husband—home-baked bread and chocolate chip cookies too!
•Writers often describe smells in terms of other smells, either good or bad.
•We commonly describe taste relative to memorable occasions by naming the food.
Besides naming the taste or dish, writers often describe taste as sweet, sour, salty or bitter.

What if we use descriptive words for smell and taste that are outside common usage? What if color and shape are borrowed from sight descriptions to indicate a smell or a taste?  Ex.: “squat, plumpy, fluted” “Aroma of lemon blossom flavors my tea.”  “Cloves sting my blistered lips.” “I’m thirsty for sleep.”
Explore outside-the-box-descriptions—and share what you come up with.

•Touch is intimate because to touch something or someone, we must be close. It requires trust.
•Sound often plays a significant role in the writing process. It enhances mood: anywhere from tranquil to suspenseful. Prose can be musical in itself with rhythms, diction, and tone, or mechanical noise, all for the purpose of leading the reader deeper into the story.

The Basics of the three main Point-of-View Methods:
• In a first-person point-of-view, the story perspective is from “I or we”. The writing is filtered through the storyteller’s awareness, with a narrow field of vision from a single point. This can help unify your story by choosing which details to include in each scene. In addition, it helps you organize the details into the sequence the teller notices each detail. First-person POV requires the narrator to be present in every scene or rely on secondary information to relate the feelings or thinking of the character.

•Second-person point-of-view narration is usually you as the main character, placing you in the events of the story.

•Third-person point-of-view narration is an objective report of the story via outward signs and description. This point-of-view freely relates any external and visible information or events happening to anyone, anywhere. It uses multiple camera views, capturing unlimited pictures for the reader. The narrator is free to discuss the past, providing accounts of people, places, or things. But, cannot reveal what anyone in the story thinks or feels.

Enhance your writing—incorporate metaphors, similes, and comparisons.

Earlier Post links in this series—Descriptive Writing for Fiction and Non-Fiction:
Make it with Specificity:
Write it with Research I:

Deborah Lyn Stanley is an author of Creative Non-Fiction. She writes articles, essays and stories. She is passionate about caring for the mentally impaired through creative arts. 

Visit her writer’s website at:   

Visit her caregiver’s website and read the Mom & Me memoir at:

Facebook: Deborah Lyn Stanley, Writer


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Terry Whalin said...


Thank you for these important tips and insights about adding sensory details to our writing so it springs to life for our readers. It's easy to throw words on a page but making our storytelling sing takes work--particularly in the rewriting process.


Karen Cioffi said...

Deborah, great tips on using descriptive writing and point of view to create more engaging stories. Thanks for sharing!

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