Writing challenge: Let’s use the five senses!

By Deirdre McCluskey, Administrative Coordinator, Harlequin Series

Many of you are preparing your submission for the Harlequin Dare Blitz which opens next Monday. Harlequin Dare is our sexiest series, featuring stories that focus on how the romance develops through the couple’s physical relationship.

As we said in our post, “The Key to Writing Red-Hot Romance”, your book’s bedroom (or kitchen, studio, beach, office, hotel room—wherever!) scenes should “bring your readers into the moment” and “[manifest] what your characters feel for each other.” One tool in your arsenal? Write using all five senses.

Your challenge this week is to write a short (3-5 paragraphs) description of a fabulous meal. Employ all five senses and use the following prompt:

“Rebecca raised the fork to her lips and looked at Ethan.”

To get you started, here are 5 tips for writing more powerful descriptive scenes:

  • Describe what’s happening without thinking about beautiful sentences, lyrical metaphors, etc.  Focus on your characters’ experience, not your writing.
  • Choose details that reveal character. Maybe the scent of lime reminds your heroine of the beach vacation where her ex broke up with her. How does she react to the hero’s citrusy cologne?
  • Minimize filter words that “tell” instead of “show”.  Look for phrases like, “she felt”, “she saw”, “she heard”, “she thought”, etc., and replace with more direct language.
  • Remember the importance of taste and smell. It feels natural to describe what your heroine sees, but including what she tastes and smells will add immediacy and depth.
  • Don’t feel you have to include every detail. A Matisse line drawing of a woman’s body says more about the artist’s unique vision than a photograph could. Select the details that are most meaningful to the characters and the story.

Post your scene in the comments below any time between now and Sunday, April 8th, 2018, and we’ll check back with you on Monday!