Sensory Details

Show, not tell is one of the key cliché’s of writing. It is the best way to keep from giving too much information too fast, and the best way to keep the details concrete, specific and interesting. Sensory writing is something that I do all the time in my classroom of middle school writers. No matter what genre we are focusing on, the idea of elaboration into the five senses and involving the use of show, not tell always come up.

Example 1:
It was hot. The kind of hot that made it hard to move through the air. When I left the house to walk the twenty feet to the car, I could feel the air pushing back against me; maybe it knew something that I did not. By the time I got in the car I could already feel the drench of the summer on my shirt and in the small curling hair on the nape of my neck.

Example 2:
It was dark now around 9pm. I was in bed staring out the window. Even without glasses on I could see the bright lights of the fire flies dancing in the leaves and branches of the apple trees. I pulled my glasses on slightly, just enough to be able to focus in the lights. They were beautiful random bits that were saturated in a summer evening. The moon was drifting in and out of nighttime clouds as if to play a game of peek a boo with me. Off in the distance, was the sound of someone’s backyard fireworks booming in a most pleasant way.


Setting the Mood

When she opened the front door the dim light made her squint for any sign or recognition. She tried to flick the lights on, but nothing happened. It was not really a surprise to her that the power had been turned off eventually. As her eyes slowly adjusted she could make out the layout of the room. The couch was a green sectional. She remembered nights of curling up on the nook of the arm with a book and a blanket. Now there were holes worn through with dirt and unidentifiable stains throughout. It sat against the gray wall covered in crayon marks that scribbled out a message only the young could understand. The brown clock hung on the wall stopped forever at 9:36: the very moment of the event. The worn leather arm chair was dad’s. She slowly caressed the back, directly where his head spent so many evenings resting against. A train table full of toys sat by the window with a map of the world taped above on the wall to the left. A bench by the door held the coats and jackets of two toddler boys. She slowly bowed her head in silent prayer. She looked for any memento she could take with her. Most everything had already been salvaged through by squatters. It had been years since she had been back to her parent’s house and she blamed herself for not doing more. The musty and thick air clung to her as she moved through out the first floor. Feeling the roughness of the walls, she flinched as a splinter hit her finger. She pulled her arm back and paused to wipe the blood droplets and noticed that some blood was on the wall. Now she was a part of the history of this demise.

Quick write prompt: Teachers Write