We’re encouraged to use all the senses in our writing: sight, sound, smell, taste and touch.
I’ll let you into a secret. At school, we had one English lesson each week called ‘Prose Writing’ – and I hated it! I didn’t want to write descriptions of ‘A Summer Meadow’ or ‘A Storm at Sea’ using the five senses. I wanted to write about PEOPLE – what they said, what they did and, even more importantly, how they felt.
Maybe I should have tried harder in those Prose Writing lessons, because I still struggle with descriptive writing – and with using the five senses. I don’t consciously think about using the 5 senses when I’m writing. If they’re there, it’s instinctive, rather than planned.
I think the so-called sixth sense can be equally important. Hunches, suspicions, 'gut' instinct, intuition, even foreboding and premonition, can play a big part in creating suspense in a novel.
The reader knows what the senses are. She (I say this because romance readers are usually women!) has probably held a man’s hand, smelt his aftershave, heard his laughter, seen his frown or smile, and tasted his lips. I can leave a lot of that to my readers’ imaginations, I don’t need to spell it out for them with adjectives or similes. What I want is for them to FEEL the character’s response to all these things and that’s where I concentrate my energies.