Using the Senses to Craft your Story

The senses are a key to fleshing out the tale you would like to tell, but why would you use them? It’s because our five senses of Sight, Hearing, Smell, Taste & Touch help us connect more fully with the picture and the story being told. When we ‘sense’ the story it opens up for us, the audience. In effect, you help us to travel with you the teller.



The 6th sense

Our Intuition or gut feelings can often be overlooked and yet, it’s interesting that this sense we often rely on for making a decision, that when we look back at it, we can’t explain why we chose what we did. It turned out to be the right thing to do. I include it here, so it’s not forgotten.

Try this exercise

Take a memory bubble or story you would like to tell. It could be business or personal and doesn’t matter which type you choose, as either will work.

Apply each of the senses to the Story you have chosen. How you do that is by applying the prompts below to help you flesh out your story.

The Sense Prompts


What can you see? What was present at the time? Name it or them. Include objects, nature, people, pets, furniture. Look at the colours and shapes around you and make a note of them. What catches your eye?


What kind of sounds did you hear? Where they sharp, harmonious, the sound of silence? Did people or animals or machinery feature? If so what were the sounds you heard? Remember how these sounds came into story. Pawing of hooves, cutting of grass, bread being cut, bacon frying, music playing or sounds of children or people speaking.


This is an interesting one. We don’t think of smells as potent, but they certainly can be. Recall any scents or smells that come back to you. Are they soft, harsh (yes you can apply that here), spicy, citrusy, earthy, fresh or dank and moldy? If you can’t remember any smells, you can use smells to describe a place, such as ‘the well smelt dank, with stagnant water…’


An odd one to add in you might think, but it has its place. Food, fresh air, perfume, a drink, water. Be aware that this sense could play an important part in your story, so use it.


A more sensuous feel. In awakening your audience to this sense, you bring the story alive. What kind of textures can you remember, rough, sharp edges, smooth silk, scrunchy sand, the feel of sun, the prickle of barbed wire. It all adds to creating a sense of depth to your story.

“A sense-based story means relating events as they were seen, heard, smelled, tasted, and touched. In other words, using only the 5 senses. In this storytelling method, judgments, comments, opinions, and critiques are purposely excluded. Instead, we rely entirely on our powers of factual description to take listeners on a sensory expedition through the story’s landscape.”

The 6th Sense or Intuition

Stories impact can hang on this elusive but powerful sense. It can be the undefined reason why someone decided not to take the train that day. Picking up groceries or children from school, when you weren’t going to. Making a call you didn’t intend to make. Maybe it’s a whisper that tells you not to be friends with that person or yes, be friends with that person. Bringing this sense into the story can give an added dimension and weight.

The Next Step

Each of the senses will give you more information to craft your story. This is the next step in deepening the tale and creating impact. The senses will draw us your audience in.

In scientific terms

More research is being done to prove what we ordinary folk already know. Listening to a story told well, means its a story that has come alive for us too. 

As a listener, we hear, see, feel, and respond as you, the teller did. We go on the journey with you. Therefore if you want to capture us and bring us to the destination, to deliver your message, you need to make it real for us too.


The 5 Senses Quote – By Jerome of Narativ

MultiSensory Storytelling – FoST


Thank you Dale! That’s great feedback!

Dale Darley

Lovely reminder to use all of the senses. Your readers will see, hear and feel something 🙂

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