Thursday, September 2, 2021

Childhood Memories: Five Senses


Childhood Memories: Five Senses


As I was thinking about how I use childhood memories in my writing, it struck me that these memories involve all five senses—and that I should be sure to use every single one of these sensory impressions as I work.


My natural tendency is to write a lot of dialogue and then add some description along the way. As a result, much of the description tends to involve what the character is seeing (facial expressions on the person they’re talking to) or hearing (what that person is saying). Over the years, I’ve learned to expand beyond that and incorporate the other senses as well.


As we’re saying farewell to summer, I thought I’d use the example of a childhood memory at the pool.



Seeing: Everything getting blurry and double-visioned because I’d had my glasses off for too long.


Hearing: Kids shouting “Marco!” “Polo!” in the deep end. Bees buzzing around the trash cans near the soda machine.


Smelling: Chlorine. Sunscreen.

Tasting: The overly sweet orange drink from the machine.


Touching: The slap as you hit the water after jumping from the high diving board.


As I move forward with some new projects, I’m hoping to revisit more childhood memories in all their sensory glory.


--Deborah Kalb