Using the Sense of Taste in Writing

taste of betrayalUsing the five senses in writing helps the reader experience the scene. Sight, smell, sounds, and touch are easy to add. Taste is often forgotten unless there are several scenes with food in them. However, your character’s lover could be tasting her berry chapstick. At the beach, the character could lick her lips and taste the salt from the ocean breeze, or if she’s running in a competition on a hot day, she could lick her lips and taste sweat.

In my novel, Norman in the Painting, Jill bakes cookies for her friends who have been threatened by the antagonist. She’s worried about their safety and the baking calms her down. At first I wrote cookies, but then I realized it was an opportunity to include taste. I named the kinds she made, chocolate chip, oatmeal, and sugar cookies. Later she delivers them and joins Maggie in sampling a few with the coffee her friend offers her in the gallery.

The bigger challenge, for example, is to write the taste of something like betrayal as the writing prompt above suggests. For Jill, I’m thinking of what her fear would taste like. Maggie has unresolved anger toward the hit and run driver that made her paralyzed. What does anger taste like?

Any ideas for the taste of betrayal, fear, anger, or whatever your character is feeling?


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For over twenty-five years, I've taught elementary grades, high school, and county special education classes. Now I am a field supervisor for teachers working toward their teaching credentials. I also teach writing classes in Dublin and Pleasanton, California. I have won 5 awards in short story contests, My stories are published in The California Writers Club Literary Review, and several anthologies including four times in Las Positas College collections. I have several book projects, but the two that have my immediate attention are HADA'S FOG, which is women's fiction, LILLI, a YA novel, and NORMAN IN THE PICTURE, a paranormal mystery. I have published an anthology WRITTEN ACROSS THE GENRES that includes writings from members of my writing classes and other writers. It's available on Amazon and Kindle.

5 thoughts on “Using the Sense of Taste in Writing”

  1. Here’s a few:

    metallic flavor, bitter berries, bile, cough syrup, really tough meat, coffee that’s way too strong or hot (or other food that burns your tongue) bad tasting lipstick, taste of mud from that car that just squealed away, that dry, sticky feeling along with the taste of the glue after you’ve licked a bunch of envelopes, jumping into a clear, blue lake and swallowing a gobful of moss…


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