What does it mean to use sensory details to convey a sense of the setting, quality of the food, and the presence of your company during a dinner?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I think that you are being asked to describe the elements through the use of your senses.  Sensory imagery is a way that a writer is able to convey the experience of "the moment" by using the senses in order to connect the instant with the reader.  For example, in conveying the "quality of the food," one can use the sense of sight in describing how it looks.  Taste would be another sensory image used to make the reader fully grasp the properties of the food.  In articulating "the presence of company," how did their voice sound, using the sense of hearing?  What material comprised the various dresses and suits, which would appeal to the sense of touch.  In this sensory detail arena, most of what you are being asked to do is to put yourself in that situation, experience it for yourself, noting everything.  Then, put the reader in what you were in by conveying to the reader what you experienced.  What smells were in the room?  In being able to describe the sense of smell, you are able to connect the experience of being in the room with a sensation that might allow the reader to better connect with that moment.  Writers always struggle with the recreation of the moment because words and language limit the reader.  No matter what, there will always be a barrier between what is being experienced and how a third party will interpret this experience.  The use of sensory imagery and sensory details helps to bridge this gap because the writer is able to link what they experience through the use of the senses, something that can be easily identified by the reader.

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