Five Senses Image-Writing: Bees, Dragonflies, & Grasshoppers

You are walking on a summer day through a field of flowers. The sun is hot and the flowers and bees are beautiful. You are alone and happy.

OR

You are walking through a field of dandelions and wildflowers. It’s hot summer. Your skin is sticky from the humid heat. You smell the dry pine needles. You smell sweet wildflowers, as the wind picks up. You see a kaleidescope of purples, pinks, yellows, blues, whites, and more. Dots and smudges of blooms across the field like an abstract oil painting. The sun is bright as a spot light, making the bees and dragonflies hovering over bright flowers so easy to spot. As you walk through the wild acre, you feel the cool stems of marigolds, anemones, and black-eyes susans on your ankles, touch their soft petals with the palms of your hands. You breathe deeply.

Which paragraph do you like better? Which one feels more real and alive? I mean maybe you’re a minimalist at heart and prefer the first one for its briefness, but I think most us prefer the second if we are looking for an experience?

The first paragraph is filled with generalities, but the second one has so many specifics that it’s easier to imagine being there, isn’t it? To feel like you can see what the writer is saying, what they feel, what they are experiencing?

Go to the second paragraph and pick out five senses. Sight, hearing, touch, taste, and smell. The humidity, sweetness, colours, bright sun, cool stems, soft petals, and more.

Writing needs specificity to ring true. Good writing creates a picture, an image, an experience for the reader to also experience. Great writing brings the reader alongside on the journey with you.

Look at this dragonfly below. I mean really look at it. Study it. Take in it’s dazzling beauty.

How would you describe this beauty to a reader with only words, sentences, language. Without throwing a photo into your blog story? Would you write about the iridescent blues and greens that look like jewels? Would you describe her eyes of emerald? Would you share your thoughts on her transluscent wings, the light shining through them like dewed-over windows in morning sun? The steel blue the colour of the Pacific Coast sea in mid-afteroon? The way that her tail looks like a thin vase, made of carefully hand-made pottery on a wheel inside a Dutch Vermeer painting? The green blurred-out stem behind her like the northern lights?

Would you have the same quiet patience and poetic vision to share the incomparable word paintings of American Poet Mary Oliver in her poem The Grasshopper, where she describes the ‘one’ who eats sugar out of her hand, gazing around with her “enormous and complicated eyes?”

Whether you are writing a story, a poem, a blog post, and essay, you will want your work to catch the reader off guard, to make them nod and get nostalgic and remember their own memories, to surprise them with something new and relatable, to help them experience with you, what you are sharing. I mean isn’t the point of blogging and essay-writing, to find connection with your audience, to bring them inside your work?

Try it the next time you write story or blog post. Try adding some word bling, try jazzing it up, try helping your audience be transported from where they are, to where you are. Trust me, you readership will increase, and your audience will love you.

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Some stories from home, some from travel adventures (usually in autumn), some happening in community, friendship and faith, and some about the vulnerable, lonely and excluded. To honour them because they have changed me for the better and taught me how to love more fully and be loved more fully. Some days are great, some good, some not always good. But overall, it's been a beautiful journey so far, and I feel more like myself every day. -- Debra, writer / photographer / blogger / traveller

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