Monday Spark — Writing Prompts: Describe this scene using all five senses

beach-1246646_1280The ocean breeze blew my hair across my sunglasses as I sat at the table on the porch of the beach restaurant. The fragrance of grilling shrimp and garlic stoked my hunger after a morning of swimming.

“Glad you made it, Hailey,” said my younger sister Emma, flipping back her long, chocolate brown hair. “You swam so much this morning, I didn’t think you’d have the energy to climb up the steps to get here.” Her piping soprano didn’t blend well with the soothing murmur of surf and wind.

Our older brother Brandon dropped his linemen bulk into the seat at the head of the table. “Eat fast. We need to catch the ferry to Bear Island at one-thirty.”

I sipped from the glass of ice water. Then I gulped. I was thirstier than I thought, the water carrying away sea salt from my lips.

“What if we skip Bear Island?” Our cousin Logan sauntered out of the dark interior of the restaurant.

Shielding my eyes from the sun’s glare, I looked up to him where he leaned against a post.

“What’re you doing up?” Brandon placed his glass on the table. “It’s not noon.”

“I wanted to ask all of you if you want to go some place else this afternoon.”

“Where?” asked Emma, pulling at the purple T-shirt covering her swimsuit.

Logan didn’t answer. With his sunglasses on, it was hard to guess where or who he was looking at.

Then he said, his subdued voice slipping into between the rattle of dishes and bursts of laughter behind us, “How about Rook’s Cove?”

My brother and sister went rigid as chill skittered up my spine that had nothing to do with the sudden gust blowing in from the sea.


Since my mind runs to crime, this scene inspired me to write about something sinister. I like the contrast between the glaring bright day and the dark, disturbing suggestion.

How would you describe this scene using all five senses?


Monday Sparks — Writing Prompts: How Would You Describe This Scene?

battlew-197727_1280This photo is a reenactment of a battle in the American Civil War. If you were writing historical fiction, how would you describe it? If you’ve never been in a battle, how could you make the scene come alive to your readers?

I am friends with a number of writers who specialize in historical fiction. From interviews I’ve conducted with them, I’ve learned a few techniques.

  • If the historical period still has living eyewitnesses, interview them.
  • If the historical period is hundreds or thousands of years from the present, research sources that were written by people of that time.
  • If at all possible, visit the area in which your historical period is set.

Once you’ve done that research, you must rely on your own imagination and skill to make a time period feel real to your readers.

What historical fiction have you read that made you feel like you knew what it was like to live in that time?

Monday Sparks — Writing Prompts: Describe this scene using all five senses

winterw-677721_1280This month I am focusing on how to maximize the senses in your writing. So my Monday sparks will have pictures to encourage you to describe a scene using all five senses.

Whether you have directly experienced a setting, or imaging a character in one, it helps to make a list of what your character is sensing. Then you can work those observations into a paragraph and the fabric of the story.

I think there is a family out on the ice. The group of four are a mother and father one the right and their two high school or college age kids on the left. The person farthest on the left, who appears to be testing the ice, will be my point of view (POV) character.

I say he is a teenage boy. What would he be sensing in this situation?

Sight: The glare of the sun on the snow. The contrast between the white snow and the stark black outlines of the trees.

Sound: They appear to be out in the country, so the pond could be quiet. A light breeze making the bare branches creak.

Smell: I have a terrible sense of smell and in a cold environment, I wouldn’t smell anything. But in this scene, a fire could be burning on the short. The strong, comforting smell of burning wood drifting through the air.

Taste: The smokey air could have a taste to it. If it starts to snow, my character could taste the snow on his tongue. After the family talks out on the ice, they could prepare food over the fire, bitter coffee, sweet marshmallows.

Touch: The cold air on exposed skin. If the air is really cold, it can burn in his nose and down his lungs, putting pressure on his chest. Some part of his outfit, a scarf or hat scratching his skin. The pressure of his foot as he presses it against the icy surface of the pond.

Now that I have my sensory experiences listed, I will plug in a few at a time as the scene unfolds.

Now it’s your turn. Who are you in this scene? What are you experiencing? And if you you know what the person is doing on the far right, please tell me!



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