BlogHow to Use ProWritingAidUse All 5 Senses in Your Writing with the Sensory Check

Use All 5 Senses in Your Writing with the Sensory Check

How to use the Sensory Check

It’s important to use all five senses in your writing. Every writer has a tendency to favor one or two of their senses over the others, and this affects the way that he or she experiences the world, processes information and makes memories. This means that we tend to describe characters, settings or actions using words related to our own favored senses. Writing that skews too far toward one sense over the others will resonate more with readers who favor the same sense and less so with those who do not.

The Sensory Check looks for NLP Predicates. These are words (primarily verbs, adverbs and adjectives) associated with the specific senses. There are thousands of words associated with each but some examples are included, below:

NLP Predicates

Contents:
  1. How to Experience an Explosion

How to Experience an Explosion

Imagine a fictional situation that can be described using different predicates to resonate with different senses. We've imagined an explosion as an example.

  • The blast from the explosion was blinding. Jane searched the sky and saw a plume of smoke rising from her office.

  • The heat from the explosion hit Jane like a bus. Her legs felt riddled with bullets as she struggled along the rough brick wall toward her office.

  • The explosion was deafening. Sirens immediately began to wail as Jane struggled to her feet, her ears drumming like machine gun fire.

  • The explosion filled the street with an acrid cloud of noxious smoke. Jane choked on the fumes as she pulled her sweater up over her burning nostrils.

  • The explosion filled the street with an acidic cloud of toxic smoke. With the taste of charcoal burning her tongue, Jane struggled toward her office.

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Now check out this example where more than one sense is used together:

  • The heat from the explosion hit Jane like a bus. Sirens began to wail and a plume of smoke rose from her office. With the taste of charcoal burning her tongue and her ears drumming like machine gun fire, Jane thought of the files on her desk and knew that she needed to go back.

The reader experiences the explosion in a much more vivid way when several of her senses are ignited.

When you are writing for a broad audience, you should try to use words associated with all of the senses. It will help emotionally engage with the widest range of people.

Running your writing through ProWritingAid’s Sensory Report will make sure that you have all five senses covered. The report will tell you how many of each type of word you have used, and highlights them in your text so that you can see how they are spread throughout your document.

visual words

You can click on each highlighted word, and ProWritingAid will tell you what type of word it is. This will help you to work out if you're using the same sense repeatedly, or if you could be clustering the senses together as we did above.

Which sense do you tend to use the most? Why not run your writing through ProWritingAid to find out?

The Sensory Report is just one of ProWritingAid's 20 powerful writing reports.

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Hayley Milliman
Content Lead

Hayley is thrilled to be ProWritingAid's Content Lead, as it gives her an excuse to think deeply about words every single day. Prior to joining ProWritingAid, Hayley spent a number of years as an elementary school teacher, which was a crash course in learning how to entertain an indifferent audience. These days, she puts her storytelling skills to use writing blog articles and working on her first novel.

When Hayley isn't hunched over her keyboard, you can find her figure skating at the ice rink or hiking with her dog.

She is the co-author of the book Museum Hack's Guide to History's Fiercest Females (which was an Amazon bestseller) and How to Build Your Author Platform on a Shoestring.

Where is the "NLP Predicates Report" or the "Sensory Check"? I can't find it!
By FMICarreiro on 11 April 2019, 10:20 PM
I am looking for the same thing.
By evanbowen on 09 July 2020, 04:58 AM
Hi there! The "NLP Predicates Report" was part of an earlier version our software. It hasn't made it into the most recent PWA update just yet. If you loved and miss the report, let us know! We love user feedback. :)
By writersneed2 on 13 July 2020, 08:20 PM
I really enjoy the sensory report, but have found that it does not pick up on the "smell". I've used several words: scent, aroma, stench, and smell, but nothing was ever was picked up on or reported. Is there a bug?
By rup123 on 23 September 2020, 05:20 PM
That's interesting! Thank you for bringing it to our attention! Which version of the app are you using? I'd like to run some tests.
By writersneed2 on 23 September 2020, 07:04 PM

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