Hook Your Readers Using Sensory Description

There is no better way to lure readers into your story than by appealing to all five of their senses.

Readers engage with stories because of the way they make them feel, and what better way to make a reader feel something that by appealing to their physical senses. Let the reader know not only how things look and sound, but how they feel, taste and smell.

Our readers have vivid imaginations but they rely on us to guide them on their journey. They don’t only want to know what happens, they want to know how it feels. Readers want to smell the tingly citrus scent of the mandarin the schoolboy peels at playtime, they want to feel the icy wind that hits the face of the woman who has just lost her job and they want to taste the hot, bitter coffee the detective sips as he gazes down on the body of the murder victim.

I recently rewrote a scene and included the sensory detail that had previously been lacking, and it was much improved. Have a look back on some of your own work, and see if you’ve let the reader know how things look, sound, touch, taste and smell. They’ll love you for it!

Here’s one I prepared earlier:

a) No sensory detail

In the late afternoon, we would take our drinks out on the verandah and joke that it was becoming our evening ritual.

b) Sensory detail

“In the late afternoon, when the sun had lost its glare, we would wander onto the verandah and drink more than we should. The sharp coldness of the wine would sting my throat at first, but like a reluctant swimmer easing inch by inch into an icy pool, I soon became aclimatised, and would want to linger all day.

The mixed aroma of rosemary, lavender and oregano surrounded us, from the cottage garden I had planted around the house. A hodge podge of scraggingly shrubs and struggling herbs, they thrived or shriveled or dug in their roots and I nurtured or discarded them accordingly.”

Posted by naomilisashippen


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Very nice tip & explanation. I need to keep this in mind when writing my book reviews too.

Gladys Strickland

I’m revising my first novel and these are good reminders. Thank you!


Thanks, Gladys, I’m glad you found my post helpful.

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