Creative Writing: Alert the Senses

I know, I know, I know! I said Tuesday’s were going to be creative writing days, and your brain is ready to explode with fun ideas and flowing words, and I disappoint you with some devo about surrender. But I also said I wasn’t going to be blogged down (hahahah) by a schedule, remember. And besides, in case you haven’t noticed, surrender, resting in God’s loving arms, is my absolute favorite topic to write about. Annoying or not, it’s been the single most ingredient in my Christian walk that has carried me through the many potholes and mountains along the way. However, I had so much fun reading all the ideas from the last photo I posted, I realized the opportunity to do it again was way too tempting to pass up. But to be totally honest, you all left me hanging last time with the whole characterization thing. But maybe I was too vague. Or you were too busy.

What do you say we try again?

Our readers want to see, feel, hear, taste (yuck!) and smell what our characters do. They want to experience our stories first hand. As I was running on a nasty old, sweat-drenched treadmill, (I know, tmi!) it got me thinking about locker rooms and our old high school gym. If you’ve ever spent any time on a sports bus after a long meet or basketball game, you know exactly what I’m talking about. It’s one of those smells you’ll never forget. This single, nasty as it was, smell, inspired a slew of future story ideas–of a man in a wheelchair desperately clinging to the past, of a teen pounding the pavement day after day to please the father who’s never home, of the woman joining one aerobics class after another to save a dying marriage.  Or how about a one with a happier slant–the woman who found true love after ten years of sifting through Mr. Wrong’s, excited to fit into the wedding dress of her dreams. (Next time I run I really need to bring my iphone with me so I can use the voice memo app. Love it!)

How about I throw out some choices and you pop off a paragraph or two, planting yourself smack dab in the middle of the scene, then tell me what you hear, see, smell, feel and, if applicable, taste. And here’s a picture to help you out.

For all my mushy romance writers: A remote mountain trail on a cool spring day with the man of your dreams. Ah, so sweet!

For my suspense writers: A remote mountain trail at dusk. Oooh!

For my young adult writers: A thickly forested mountain trail, back loaded down with a fifty pound pack, at a youth camp.

For my paranormal/(not sure the genre, but spiritual warfare type) writers: A remote, forest hiking trail with a big old demon lurking in the bushes. Or however you wanna spin it.

For my fantasy writers: a fairy dancing on a pine cone tucked behind a thick cluster of trees.

And even though I’m knee deep in eye-blurring edits, here’s my go of it. Although it’s gonna be a little short. No where near the wonderful stuff Terry gave us (thanks!) But I’ll add some parenthesis to help you see what I mean by see, taste, hear and smell.

~                           ~                                  ~

Tyler shrugged off his backpack and rummaged through match boxes, wrinkled topographic maps, and empty water bottles for the pack of gum he’d stashed inside. His mom would have thrown a fit if’n she’d seen it. But like Pa said, what she didn’t know wouldn’t hurt her none. Course, what she found out about hurt him plenty!

Branches crackled behind him. (hear) Tyler spun around and searched the thick underbrush, images of angry Momma bears flooding his mind. He held his breath and strained his ears against the silence. His lungs emptied when a bushy tailed squirrel climbed up an adjacent tree. A drop of dew fell on his forehead and trickled between his eyes and down his nose. (Feel) He swiped at it with a grimy hand.

The sun was just beginning to dip over the horizon, casting long shadows across the still forest. There was no time to waste, not if he wanted to make it to camp before dark. Closing his pack, he tossed it over his shoulder and angled his head. In the distance, he could barely make out the sound of gently running water. He licked his cracked lips in anticipation. Adrenaline heightened his senses as he continued towards the sound, branches scratching at his legs (feel) and pulling at his clothes. Thick, clustering vines on either side of him stirred, sending the scent of sun-roasted blackberries to his nose. (smell.) He reached down to pluck the ripe fruit and plopped it in his mouth, closing his eyes as the warm juice exploded across his tongue. It was sweeter than cotton candy. (taste)

And as usual, you can add your versions as a comment, can send to me via facebook or can shoot them to me via email at

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  1. Grace reached up for the powerful arm of Billy. He reached back to help Grace over the boulder. The trail held no challenge for Billy. His 6’8″ frame towered over the thick brush of the trail. Grace admired his size and strength. Her own thin 5′ frame struggled even in the thinest woods. He stood over her, trying to help her past what appeared to be the largest clump of forest.
    Grace pulled closer to Billy. It wasn’t the deep woods that brought this level of fear to her. No, the cause of her fear stalked along the trail waiting for the right opportunity to strike. Grace felt the prickly sensational from the unnatural sweep over her. Then she knew.
    She threw herself into his arms.
    Billys face reflected his alarm as well. His eyes widened as he too, picked up the prickly warning going down his back. Her damp sweaty body clung to Billy, mixing with the sweat of his own fear.
    Real powers of darkness stalked them.
    Grace knew the reason. She knew the names.
    Knowing the names of the darkness became a gift to her after she’d met this mountain of a man and they’d shared ‘I Do” in front of God and man.
    But now this?
    Grace drew herself into the strength of Billy. She could hear his rapid heartbeat and smell the fear running down his shirt.
    Part of Grace became enraged at the thought. Why should they hold each other in fright? This weekend and walking trail was supposed to be part of their romantic weekend away. Now they held each other in the grip of fear.
    A jumble of wicked names pressed into her mind. A new strength came from her inner spirit.
    Yes, she could do this; in the Name of the Lord!
    Rising to her fullest height she belted out her command in the name of the Lord.
    The unnatural spirits shook in fear at the name of the Lord. Grace looked around the woods in surprise. Not an insect sung. Not a leaf stirred. The moment of decision arrived.
    Would she turn and run with Billy to the edge of the woods?
    Would she instead stand by her man?
    The unnatural waited. They had been found out trying to sneak an attack.
    What would happen?
    Planting her feet in the soft moss, she suddenly spit out the evil names as if they were an acid on her tingue. Dark smudges appeared where only the thick woods were a moment earlier.
    Bright shafts of sun lit the trail as the darkness blew away in a fresh breeze.
    Billy picked up this remarkable woman. Neither seemed to mind the others damp odor. He held her in a tight embrace of passion. Their lips met in the sweet kiss of victory and love.
    Now the darkening woods held no more fear.
    Their lips returned for more.

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