More Than Meets the Eye

Writing the OTHER Four Senses

Marian Szczepanski


A sure-fire way to captivate your readers is with concrete details–BUT describing the appearance of a person, place or thing is just the beginning. Your characters, like your readers, have four other senses—hearing, taste, smell and touch—and each one offers you countless opportunities to render those characters’ experiences more vividly. By extension, the reader’s experience of fiction, memoir, and/or creative nonfiction embedded with sensory details will be deeper, more compelling, even downright visceral. 

We’ll read and discuss examples of sensory detail from such contemporary writers as Anthony Doerr, Lily King, Michael Ondaatje, Chitra Divakaruni and Lauren Groff. The class also will include writing prompts for using sensory details in new or in-progress work. Please bring a laptop or paper and pen to class. Handout provided with excerpts, writing exercises and bibliography of works cited. STUDENTS SHOULD READ THE VERY SHORT STORY “BRILLIANT MISTAKE” (IN HANDOUT) BEFORE CLASS. It will be emailed to you when you register.


To register click here.

Marian Szczepanski is the author of Playing St. Barbara (High Hill Press, 2013), praised by Huffington Post as “a stunning debut novel that shimmers with unforgettable characters while casting necessary light on a dark chapter in American history.” Her short fiction has garnered the deMaine Award for an Emerging Writer from Clackamas Literary Review. She has received fellowships, grants, and awards from Hedgebrook, Vermont Studio Center, the Writers’ Colony at Dairy Hollow and Houston Press Club. She holds an MFA in fiction from the Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College and teaches creative writing workshops at Writespace (Houston), the Writers League of Texas (Austin) and beyond.