Debra takes a look at the five senses in a story.
As writers we know the importance of including sensory information in our stories. We're told to include all five senses. But of course some senses are much easier to include than others.
Sight is obviously an easy one. Everything that's happening is being seen by either the hero or the heroine. Of course it's up to us, as authors, to do justice to what's being seen by adding description to our scenes.
Sound is another fairly easy one. Our characters hear each other speak. They might listen to the radio. Or be at a bar with loud overlapping conversations or music in the background. Things in our environment make sounds too. Again, as an author, we need to include those sounds in our descriptions. This gives us a chance to stretch our creative muscles. Rather than...'it was raining' we can say something like 'raindrops tap-danced on the windows'.
Touch is pretty manageable too. Especially in a romance, characters are always touching one another. Whether it's the warmth of his hand in the small of her back as he guides her out onto the dance floor or how his warm breath mingles with hers the first time they kiss. Your heroine might find herself wrapped in the warm hug of cashmere when she dons a favorite sweater. Or the cotton of the hero's shirt might be rough (or soft) against her cheek when she tucks her head beneath his chin and nestles in for a hug.
Taste can get a bit trickier, but any type of eating lends itself to this. My characters generally share at least one meal together. Even his kisses may taste like whiskey. Or he might taste the mint of her toothpaste or gum.
Then we get to smell. Obviously our world is filled with smells. Some are nice. Some are not so nice. Foods have a smell. Different seasons have smells. Houses can have smells. But when it comes to personal smells, this is the sense I have the most trouble realistically incorporating. My heroine's shampoo might smell like jasmine, or cherries, or vanilla. In One Great Night, Jason mentions how Chloe always smells like honeysuckle. Okay, let's be honest here. What man is going to recognize the scent of honeysuckle? Heck, I wouldn't recognize the scent of honeysuckle. But it sure made for a nice, romantic moment in the story. So I do tend to associate my heroine with a certain smell when I'm in the POV of the hero. But then the hero's smell is even trickier for me. I'll be honest again...I don't like sweaty guys. So even if my hero has been working in the hot sun all day...I am not going to go there. My heroes always wear aftershave or cologne (because I think it's sexy), but this is even harder to describe than an herbal scent for a woman. I usually come up with something lame like 'spicy' or 'woodsy'. I think the most creative I ever got with it was to add 'citrusy' to the mix, but does cologne really smell like citrus? Probably not. I love the smell of my hubby's bodyspray, but heck if I can specifically describe it other than 'sexy'.
So, whether it's difficult for us or not, it's important to include these sensory details for our readers. It helps to strengthen POV for our characters, and it helps to ground the reader in a scene and pull her deeper into the story, as if she's really right there experiencing everything along with our hero and heroine.
Until next time,