Thinking Exercise 1: Sensory Detail

Thinking Exercise 1A
Read the following paragraphs. Then, write or type your answers to the following questions:
  1. Which paragraph is more interesting? Why?
  2. Which paragraph helps you to "see" the beach in your mind? How does the writer do this?
Paragraph A

     I like to go to the beach. There is a lot of sand and some trees there. People play games on the beach, and some people like to swim. I used to go to the beach very often in my country.
Paragraph B
from "The Beautiful Beach" by Mora Siregar

     I remember one time in particular that I went to the beach with my friends. First, I looked for good place when I arrived at the beach, because it would be very crowded on weekends or holidays. I selected a cool place under the trees and extended a mat on the white sand. The wind that blew through the trees softly made the weather cool and pleasant. Peace came into my heart when I looked at the very beautiful long, white sand. People played games on the beach; for instance they played volleyball. Some of them swam in the shallow sea. There were some kids trying to make something in the sand, and then trying to break it. Everybody looked happy at that time.

When you describe a person, place, thing, or animal, it is important that you give the reader a clear picture of what you are describing. The best way to do this is to use sensory detail. It is called "sensory detail" because it uses the five senses; it shows how something or someone looks, sounds, smells, tastes, or feels. Writing that has a lot of sensory detail is much more interesting to read!

Thinking Exercise 1B
Look at Paragraph B above. Write or type your answers to the following questions about the paragraph:
  1. What sensory details does Mora use in this paragraph? (Make a list).
  2. Which of these sensory details makes the strongest "picture" in your mind? Why?

The best way to learn to use sensory detail in your writing is to practice "seeing" detail around you. Most of us are blind to all but the most obvious details of our environment. It takes practice to begin to look at things from a new perspective.

Thinking Exercise 1C
Where are you right now? Concentrate on your environment very carefully, and write or type your answers to the following questions: (Be as detailed and specific as possible; don't just write, "I see a man." What color is his hair? What clothes is he wearing? Does he look happy, sad, frustrated? How old do you think he is? etc.)
  1. What do you see?
  2. What do you hear?
  3. What do you feel?
  4. What do you smell?
  5. What do you taste?

When you have finished all the exercises, go back to Writing a Descriptive Essay to continue.