Sensory Details and What They Do to Feelings

Children react strongly to the color, size, shape, sound, smell and feel of things. And, as Ursula Nordstrom, former editor of Harper and Row, said, “We must remember that children are new, and the whole world is new to them.” Therefore writers must learn to see the world with young eyes and through the filter of young moods, in order to present youthful adventures through the viewpoint of young story people.

A flash of light—sudden darkness; heat—cold; something rough to the touch—something soft or smooth; sweet—sour—bitter; pleasing scents—disagreeable odors; a loud noise—a tinkle of melody. What are these sensory impressions like to young people?

Too often beginning writers assume that they know, until the moment of truth when they must put their “knowledge” down in words. Then they suddenly find their minds cluttered with stereotypes and blocked to original thought. To exercise your word-picture-making imagination, gather sensory impressions and practice writing them down in colorful, fresh phrases and figures of speech. File them for easy reference, and they’ll be there, ready for tailoring to a particular story and its characters. Use words that will create images in the minds of readers for whom your writing is intended. Flat, colorless statements won’t do it. To a grownup, a leg may be asleep, but to a child “it feels like ginger ale, all tingly.”


These tips came from the course Writing the Middle Grade Book

Bright, curious young readers demand realistic compelling characters and exciting plots just as much – if not more – than their adult counterparts. While the focus of this workshop is fiction, the basic fundamentals can be applied to children’s nonfiction as well. Writing for children can be both personally and professionally rewarding. It means returning to a child’s point of view, full of wonder when learning something new and letting your imagination run wild.

You will learn:

  • Fundamental techniques of writing stories for young readers that can be applied to fiction or nonfiction writing
  • How to create characters children can relate to, including dialogue basics
  • The elements of storytelling, including principles of a strong plot
  • The best way to begin your story, carrying through the middle, and fulfilling the story promise
  • How to find your voice and create your tone
  • The keys to successful rewriting and revision

Learn More About Writing the Middle Grade Book Today!

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