Sensory Imagery


Sensory Imagery: descriptive language that uses any of the five sense (sight, hearing, smell, taste, touch).

Our five senses are how we experience the world.  Without them, how would we know what is going on around us?  How would we even know anything is going on around us at all?

Describe the input your five senses are receiving to help your reader understand what it was like to experience what you are writing about.

Advanced Imagery

We have learned about imagery, which is descriptive language that uses any of the five sense.  Today we will discuss some more advanced uses of the skill. Review this Writer’s Digest article.

Advanced Imagery Techniques

  1. Don’t stop the story to give descriptions. Instead, weave your descriptions into the action.  
    Example: As he shook Hulk Hogan’s hand, he could feel the years of training, body slams and grappling in the callouses of Hogan’s palms.
    Instead of: He shook Hulk Hogan’s hand.  Hogan’s hands were calloused and tough from the years of training , body slams and grappling.
    In the first example, there is action and description at the same time, in the second, first there is action then the description follows, slowing down the pace of the story. The first example is better because it weaves the action and description together, keeping the story moving.
  2. Try using “Double Nouns” to convey your imagery.  These are basically “Imagery Metaphors.” That describe a sensation and make a comparison simultaneously.  
    Examples:  Concrete bed, iceberg floor, a cat’s “sandpaper tongue”, spiderweb hair, flagpole physique, leather skin, pumpkin head.
    Notice that these examples are two nouns (person, place, thing or idea) next to each other.  They are very effective in creating an image, while not slowing down the story to give a description.
    Don’t say “Walt stood over me, while I was in my seat.  He was tall and skinny like a flagpole.” Instead say “As I sat in my seat, Walt’s flagpole physique stood over me.”  The second sentence incorporates actions in the descriptions and uses a “Double Noun” comparison which describes how Walt looks, without interrupting the story.
  3. Focus on a tiny but telling detail.  Often what makes a story believable and relatable are the tiny details.
    Ex: She felt her pulse both in her throat and under the grip of that hand of his crushing her forearm. His breath. She heard it in short, chattering bursts. She smelled it, too. Fear stunk.  
    In this example, notice how she feels her pulse under the attacker’s grip, she also notices his breath.Ex:  She tore free of his grip and leaped off the trail. A spider’s web tugged at her face. Any other time she would have screamed.  In this example, the spider web is used to show how urgently she is escaping. Something that would have ordinarily inspired fear means nothing because this situation is much scarier.
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3 Responses to “Sensory Imagery”

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  1. Vocabulary and Advanced Imagery Continued | Mr. Funk's Web Site - November 18, 2014

    […] your Memoir or College/Personal Essay from last quarter, and add the three Advanced Imagery Techniques to your piece.  You may do so in your notebook or directly on the piece itself (I recommend your […]

  2. Tuesday and Wednesday: Extended Metaphor Piece | Mr. Funk's Web Site - September 9, 2015

    […] Skill: Sensory Imagery […]

  3. Of Mice and Men; Thoreau Quotes and Anecdotes | Mr. Funk's Web Site - February 6, 2017

    […] heard that relate to the Henry David Thoreau quote you chose. Go into detail about the story. Use imagery and showing not telling to tell the story. Explain how the story relates to the quote you […]

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