Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Using the Sense of Smell

We have many tools at our disposal to make our writing feel realistic. One of those is using our senses, We tend to use sight the most in our writing with the sense of hearing running a close second. We rely on what our characters can see and hear to convey our story, but if we use the other senses we can lend even more credibility to our writing.

Using the sense of smell can help us to better show our characters.

Think about what comes to mind when you smell cinnamon? Pine trees? Lemons? A certain kind of perfume? Horse manure? Rotten milk? BO? Each of these smells produces a different reaction. We can use that to characterize the people in our stories.

If I write about a man who smells of whiskey in the middle of the day, I don't have to say he drinks a lot, do I? What if I mention a woman who smells of a designer fragrance? Chances are she'd be a character that has some money, but I wouldn't have to tell you that.

Using the sense of smell allows us to show our characters and communicates things about our characters and stay away from that dreaded telling.

Try this exercise: Use the sense of smell to communicate something about your character. Decide what it is that you want to communicate and then attach a smell to it.