I think most writers understand that the goal of sensory description is to convey a specific image to the reader in a unique way. A good story alone isn't enough, nor is having strong characters. Something needs to bring them to life, and that thing is sensory description.
Description is all about showing, and showing well. And what we choose to show to the reader should always have significance--random details will bore the reader. Targeted description lends power to the manuscript, not only highlighting the character's experiences, but also by sometimes hinting at mood, atmosphere and themes.
By taking a moment to describe how white paint chips dust the overgrown grass beneath an old, leaning fence, it is possible to convey a mood of sadness or loneliness, hint at themes of decay or loss or even suggest a quiet endurance.
Whatever emotion you're trying to evoke through description (either through a comparision or contrast), make sure it is done with purpose and it highlights, rather than detracts, the character's inner feelings.
If your intent is to reinforce a theme or life stage (a turning point, a loss of innocence, a difficult choice) through description, take care to choose setting symbolism that your reader will pick up on.
Describing shapes can be difficult, which is why we often rely on similies or metaphors to convey what we mean. However, the comparisions a writer chooses must fit the story well. Round as an orange isn't going to help you of you live in a world or climate where oranges do not exist, or the character has never seen one.
And what about textures--say the feel of a wool sweater against the cheek? The first thing that comes to mind is sandpaper, but the image is quite overused and may fall flat on the page. The right comparison is paramount for creating strong imagery, which puts readers in the scene, almost allowing them to experience what the character does.
And this is where the Colors, Textures and Shapes Thesaurus comes in!
In each entry, we will explore one of these tangibles and list real world examples for it. We hope this will offer you a great starting point for finding the perfect comparison (similes, metaphors, etc) or contrast for each descriptive need.
You can find entries for this thesaurus in the sidebar! Our first color entry can be found here.