Writing with the Senses

I just saw “Inception,” a movie that cannot be easily described with mere words. As such, I realize that I should use it as an example in my next writing class at UCSD Extension: Writing with the Senses.

The movie was a feast for the senses of sight and hearing. The other senses had to be left to the imagination: smell, touch, and taste. Visually, the movie was stunning, and overwhelming. How does one adequately describe the streets of Paris rolling up and over one’s head, so that the slate roof tiles of one stone building lay atop another and cars made ninety-degree turns UP as the avenue bent? or how two characters battled in a zero-gravity hallway, scrambling for handholds as they maneuvered for chokeholds? It can be done, but it won’t be easy…finding the exact words to build the vision in the reader’s mind.

That’s the power of writing with the senses. Learning to use words to bring sight, sound, taste, smells, and touch to the reader’s mind, to create images that will elicit sensory memory in the reader. My workshop at UCSD will be only two meetings, but long enough for the students to get a taste of what it means to write with the senses.