September 24, 2017

Come to your senses

Analogy helps readers experience your story

What does an epilepsy seizure taste like?

Help readers experience your story

More colorful copy Use all your senses to make your messages more creative. Image by Joe Shillington

That’s the question Paul Harding answers in this passage of his Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, Tinkers:

“Howard had epilepsy. His wife, Kathleen … cleared aside chairs and tables and led him to the middle of the kitchen floor. She wrapped a stick of pine in a napkin for him to bite so he would not swallow or chew off his tongue. If the fit came fast, she crammed the bare stick between his teeth and he would wake to a mouthful of splintered wood and the taste of sap, his head feeling like a glass jar full of old keys and rusty screws.”

Take a tip from Harding and bring readers to their senses: Use description and analogy to show readers what your subject looks like, smells like, tastes like, feels like or sounds like.

Here’s how …

How to report with all your senses

Related stories

“Good writing is supposed to evoke sensation in the reader — not the fact that it’s raining, but the feel of being rained upon.”
— E.L. Doctorow, author of Ragtime and other critically acclaimed novels

Paint Pictures In Your Readers’ Minds

Make their brains light up

Think of description as virtual reality: Describe a scent, and your readers’ primary olfactory cortexes light up. Describe texture, and you activate their sensory cortexes. Describe kicking, and not only do you stimulate their motor cortexes, but you stimulate the part of the motor cortex responsible for leg action.

A splash of color

A splash of color Learn to use color, description, analogy and more in your writing to make it more colorful, interesting and memorable. Image by Mike Petrucci

But write abstractly — aka, the way we usually do in business communications — and readers’ brains remain dark.

Want to stimulate some brain activity around, say, your CEO’s latest strategy or that brilliant Whatzit you’ll be releasing later this month? Description is the answer.

At Master the Art of the Storyteller — our two-day creative-writing master class on Sept. 25-26 in New York — you will learn to make your readers’ brains light up with description.

Specifically, you’ll learn how to:

  • Dig up descriptive details: Try WBHA, the most overlooked reporting tool there is.
  • Tune in to sensory information: Use our travel writer’s tip for going beyond visual description.
  • Answer the scene-writer’s question: You can’t write good description without it.
  • Take on The Popcorn Project: Practice our four-step process for writing vivid description.
  • Communicate, don’t decorate: Use this tip to avoid stimulating readers’ gag reflexes instead of their cerebral cortexes.

Save $100 when you book one of the first 20 early bird tickets.

This is the last chance to take this creative-writing Master Class from Ann in 2017. Don’t miss out. Register now.

“Very eye-opening. Who knew you could teach an old dog new tricks? I was humbled.”
— Larry Nuffer, manager, Corporate Communications, CDC Small Business Finance

Polish your skills at these Master Classes

Learn to Master the Art of the Storyteller, Catch Your Readers, Get Clicked, Cut Through the Clutter and more

Register for Get Clicked, Read, Shared & Liked - Ann Wylie’s online-writing workshop in Portland on July 27-28, 2017

Portland | July 27-28

Register for Cut Through the Clutter - Ann Wylie’s concise-writing workshop in San Francisco on Aug, 17-18, 2017

San Francisco | Aug. 17-18

Register for Master the Art of the Storyteller in New York: Ann Wylie’s creative-writing workshop in New York on Sept. 25-26, 2017

New York | Sept. 25-26

Register for Catch Your Readers in Kansas City: Ann Wylie’s persuasive-writing workshop in Kansas City on Nov. 16-17, 2017

Kansas City | Nov. 16-17

Register for Write For The Web and Mobile: Ann Wylie’s online-writing workshop in Miami on Dec. 11-12, 2017

Miami | Dec. 11-12

Rather bring Ann in to train your whole team?

Catch Ann on the road

Save when you book a workshop while I’m in your neighborhood

Ask about piggybacking on my upcoming engagements in:

  • Troy, MI: June 16
  • Geneva: July 6
  • Johnson, RI: Aug. 7-11
  • Kansas City: Nov. 16-17
  • Memphis: Nov. 2
  • Miami: Dec. 11-12
  • New York: Sept. 25-26
  • Northbrook, IL: June 14
  • Plano, TX: Oct. 19-20
  • Portland: July 27-28
  • Roseville, CA: Oct. 24
  • San Francisco: Aug. 17-18

Keep up with my calendar.

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