Blog How to Use ProWritingAid Use All 5 Senses in Your Writing with the Sensory Check

Use All 5 Senses in Your Writing with 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

  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

Hayley Milliman

Content Lead

Hayley is the Head of Learning at ProWritingAid. Prior to joining this team, Hayley spent several years as an elementary school teacher and curriculum developer in Memphis, TN. When Hayley isn't hunched over her keyboard, you can find her figure skating at the ice rink or hiking with her dog.

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Where is the "NLP Predicates Report" or the "Sensory Check"? I can't find it!
I am looking for the same thing.
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. :)
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?
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.
Would love to have the sensory report!
Are you a premium user? If so, you have it! :)
I cannot find the sensory report and want it on my ribbon. I found the emotional report in the summary, but would like this on the ribbon too. Please explain in detail how to get them.
Hi there! Happy to help. All the way on the righthand side of your ribbon you will see a button that says "more reports." Click on that and a dropdown menu will appear with "sensory" toward the bottom. Go ahead and click on that, and you'll be able to access the report! :)
I don't think it's working properly. I have sensory words--but I get a no--even on chapters I have formerly gotten a yes on.
Hi there! Will you send an email to our support team so that we can investigate this issue further? Thanks! You can reach us at :)
I'm using the sensory report right now. It was taken out once? Shame, I never thought about sensory words, until now.
They're really interesting, aren't they. When I first started using this report, I copy and pasted some of the classics into the tool and was really surprised by the senses that some of the most influential writers rely on/ ignore.
I work on my second novel using your product. In the first novel I used the sensory list you provided and the sensory report came to be helpful. All sensory words are found in the dictionary and cannot be proprietary. Without a defined list I use sensory lists from books (Dahlia Evens Romance writer and Kathy Steinmann's writer's lexicon) as well as lists off the internet. Guess what! The predicate list and those other lists mentioned are quite different. So the sensory report is not helpful for me. Does not seem a tough fix as the comment below identified this as an issue in 2020. It is now three years later.
Hey there! Thank you for your comment. Would you please send an email in to our support team at They'll be happy to help!

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