Have you ever been sucked into a book, completely absorbed by the story?
When this happens, the writer has painted a picture so vivid that you can imagine it in clear detail.
How do they accomplish this? What’s their secret?
They evoke the senses to transfer their imagination to you.
Is that something you would like to learn?
Then I’m sure you’ll find this interesting.
When you are deeply involved in reading a book, you forget all about time. Your brain can even slow down into a more relaxed state of mind.
Professional authors master the art of language to provide you with a magical experience every time you read their books.
Words have a magical power. They can bring either the greatest happiness or deepest despair; they can transfer knowledge from teacher to student; words enable the orator to sway his audience and dictate its decisions. Words are capable of arousing the strongest emotions and prompting all men’s actions. ~ Sigmund Freud
But what if I told you this type of writing power is not exclusively reserved for established authors?
And with some effort, you can do it too.
Drew Eric Whitman, author of the highly recommended book Cashvertising explains that every experience we have is made up by these 5 factors:
- Visual (sight)
- Auditory (sound)
- Kinesthetic (feeling or emotions)
- Olfactory (smell)
- Gustatory (taste)
You can remember it as: V-A-K-O-G
The more you apply words that speak to these representational systems, the more you’ll be able to paint a vivid word picture.
In just a second, I’ll show you how you can embed these factors in your own writing to make your web copy powerful.
So, are you ready to dive into the mechanics?
Let’s fire away so I can show you exactly what you need to engage the senses through the use of words.
Use sensory words to evoke the senses
Sensory words are words that evoke the senses. They help you to write in a way that activates the imagination of your readers. This is a powerful, yet simple tool. And once you realize it, you’ll start to see that it’s being used to activate your imagination all the time.
If you don’t use sensory words, your writing will eventually become boring to read. The imagination of your readers will not be activated, so there is nothing to experience. It’s all just plain text.
So, would you like to see some examples of spicing up your sentences through sensory words? Here we go:
Don’t say: I was hungry when I got home.
Do say: By the time I got home, my stomach was rumbling and growling.
Don’t say: I was walking past a nice restaurant today.
Do say: I was strolling past an Italian restaurant today when I got overwhelmed by the aroma of a professionally cooked plate of authentic Italian spaghetti, my favorite meal.
Don’t say: This car is really fast.
Do say: With this car, you’ll zoom right past traffic in the blink of an eye.
The sentences with sensory words are more powerful and descriptive, don’t you think?
How you can arouse curiosity through sensory words
Perhaps you are already starting to see how using sensory words to engage the senses can transform your copy. Copywriters use them all the time with great success.
But rather than telling you, I will show you. Here’s some copy for a perfume, Versace Pour Femme:
A blend of soft and fresh flowers is dedicated to a woman of a new millennium. Top notes include a freshness of the morning dew along with purple wisteria and tropical, succulent guava and white lilacs. Its heart is composed of wet and translucent flowers; Angel Wing jasmine, lotus flowers, orchid and azaleas. The drydown is built of vetiver, cedarwood and musk. The package suggests innocence and warmth of the scent. The elegant bottle texture is clean and clear, as the fragrance is.
Do you see how many sensory words are used to create a magical image of the scent? Perhaps it seems a little over the top, but this is unbelievably powerful. Through these words, they are persuading people to go to the store to try it — or even purchase it online without actually experiencing the smell!
Future pacing with sensory words
You may already know that it’s crucial to mention the benefits of your product. Features state what a product does, but the benefits explain what that means to you.
But you know what’s even more powerful?
If you describe what it’s like to experience the benefits of your product.
I won’t get enthusiastic about seeing “4 GB of RAM” until you explain to me that it makes my new phone run incredibly fast, allows me to use many heavy apps at the same time and makes it capable to run powerful games smoothly.
You can even make them experience getting the package delivered to the door and how the product will feel in their hands:
Once the package arrives and you slide your portable charger out of the box, you’ll immediately notice how heavy this portable charger is. It will assure you right away that this is a sturdy product built to last. We made it this way so it can withstand every situation you put it through. It will easily survive a drop because of it’s thick rubber surface. It is even water resistant, giving you peace of mind knowing you’ll always be able to charge your devices.
Here’s something else to think about: the subconscious mind can’t distinguish the difference between real and imagined experiences.
So if you make your reader imagine what it’s like to use your product, they have already “experienced” what it’s like to use your product.
Amazing, isn’t it?
Apply new words regularly
Right now, you are either at the second or third stage of the four levels of competence: conscious incompetence or conscious competence.
This means you are either conscious of what you should apply but can’t yet. Or you can apply it as long as you concentrate and put a serious effort on the task.
Eventually, you’ll want to be in a space of unconscious competence.
But how do you achieve that? It’s simple.
Just like mastering any other skill, it takes practice. By deliberately applying new words often, you’ll find that you start doing it effortlessly and automatically, like riding a bicycle.
This means that you’ll need to actively seek for new words to use and apply them whenever you can.
But don’t worry. Once you are conscious of sensory words, you’ll start seeing these words everywhere!
Use day to day experiences as an opportunity to practice
Another fantastic way to get better at engaging the senses in your writing is by using your real life experiences as practice.
Walking your dog? Turn it into an exercise to pay attention to everything that goes on around you. Describe the experience in your mind. For instance:
As I look at the bright blue sky with the beautiful light clouds, I can hear the sound of children playing a game of soccer on the grass. A soft and refreshing breeze is blowing against my skin. I see a field of flowers in the near distance, with all sorts of colors. The soft wind blows the smell of fresh flowers through the air. It’s a perfect day in The Netherlands.
Are you starting to see how powerful yet simple this little exercise is?
Try it out yourself and let me know what you come up with.
Start a swipe file of sensory words
Copywriters are known for creating swipe files. These are files with all kinds of excellent advertising help them to get inspiration.
I’d advise you to pick this little habit up as well, and start making your own list of sensory words. You’ll find it will make applying these words in your writing incredibly simple.
I highly recommend you to store these words in a file you can always access at any time. I use Evernote because it allows me to use my notes everywhere with an internet connection. I can always update my file, even on the go.
I hope you learned from this post and enjoyed the read. It’s not rocket science, right? With some effort, anyone can write descriptive sentences.