|21st July 2012, 10:51 PM||#1 (permalink)|
Join Date: Jun 2006
Blog Entries: 34
I was pondering this the other day as I was taking quite a while to write one sentence just because I couldn't work out what someone's house should smell like.
So, I just wondered how often you guys write about smells?
I've just done a search for smell in my WiP and I have 28 instances in a 48k doc. (That seems a lot, is that a lot?!)
smell of vinegar and grease
The bedding was plush, cream and smelled brilliantly fresh
Her house smelled of biscuits and washing powder
The café smelled of burnt coffee, disinfectant and, vaguely, nappies
Jenn smelled strongly of whatever cheap perfume she’d sprayed all over herself
The flat smelled of burnt toast
There are more. I won't bore you with them all. Some are quite gross.
|21st July 2012, 10:59 PM||#2 (permalink)|
No Christmas angel.
Join Date: Oct 2011
Blog Entries: 114
Oh, smell, good one. Across the two books from memory I have:
the dry desert air
spices in a market
oil and diesel
blood and mixed bodily functions (not a nice one, that...)
freshly baked bread
a child's hair
people - individuals mainly
I could make more of them, actually.
|22nd July 2012, 12:05 AM||#4 (permalink)|
who do vudu?
Join Date: Dec 2011
Location: West Sussex
Hi. Smell - yes, it's definitely important as is so evocative. The only creative writing I do is on here, so no great reference of work for an opinion.
To me, the smells of plants and flowers seem to be really powerful tools - like a painter adding shadow, if you will? Simple way of suggesting a location, time of year/day...even temperature?
Food smells - yes, they work really well...hog-raost in the next field?
Just a thought, as i browse around these forum pages...
|22nd July 2012, 01:18 AM||#5 (permalink)|
Making no sense.
Join Date: Nov 2006
Blog Entries: 3
In one of my many unfinished words smell features prominently. Many of the characters can't be relied upon to look the same all the time, but the smells of them are much more fixed, so for some this is a way to help identify them.
Whenever I'm writing a scene I often stop and think about what will be happening to each sense of a particular character. See, hear, feel (as in touch), taste and smell. Not all of them will perhaps be used, based on the circumstances and if they'd actually add anything, but just stopping and having a think about each can make you think up a descriptive that is quite brilliant and that you would otherwise have completely overlooked. It's too easy to fall into the trap of thinking only eyes and ears can tell us things.
|22nd July 2012, 01:18 AM||#6 (permalink)|
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: UK: ENGLAND:
I mention smell quite a few time in my WiPs - drying seaweed, fear, dissolving bodies, aliens - i.e. the usual household smells.
And one of my main characters is afraid of a (very) particular smell.
|22nd July 2012, 01:53 AM||#7 (permalink)|
Join Date: Nov 2004
Blog Entries: 17
It doesn't seem like too much to me. It sounds about right.
I struggle with this myself but (under the do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do rule) I'm always encouraging my clients to do more because I know how important it is.
There is evidence that the sense of smell is powerfully connected to emotional memory, maybe (and it's a big maybe) even to emotional disorders. If it has that kind of effect on us in real life, then it stands to reason that it would work the same way in our stories.
|22nd July 2012, 02:16 AM||#8 (permalink)|
Join Date: Feb 2011
1st off now I want biscuits.
2nd smell tends to be one of those senses we take for granted. It is the larger part of our taste mechanism. Imagine how awful or just bland food tastes when you have a cold or stuffy head. I can think back even now and remembering my grandparents homes two things come to mind. The way they smelled and how cluttered they were. No place on earth smelled like my paternal grandparents. Sort of a mix of coffee, bacon grease, old people and dogs, it was very distinctive.
I guess what I am saying is that the addition of place or personal smells can add to the immersion of a well written piece. Well that and I really want some biscuits now.
|22nd July 2012, 03:24 AM||#9 (permalink)|
& the Fat Cats
Join Date: Nov 2009
I'm going to have to think about this one. I'm pretty sure I don't have any smells in my WIP, and that is just wrong, considering that smell is probably my strongest sense.
I guess I'd have to say this stinks.
|22nd July 2012, 12:41 PM||#10 (permalink)|
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: UK: ENGLAND:
I've read books where there is quite a bit about people's individual scent with it being implied/stated that you can identify people in passing by how they smell.
Now I have noticed how different houses smell, all the obvious ones of food, and flowers, the smell of concrete and earth just after rain (especially in the summer), strong perfume or aftershave, or having eaten garlic recently. But to me not every person does smell of anything.
So does everyone (else) here, notice how each and EVERY individual smells, or are there some people who are under the nose-dar?
Oh, and I can see one small problem with smells in books - places you want to include but can't afford to visit other than via the internet. I was thinking just now of the smell of a church - cool, underlying slight damp, old books, old plaster, old stone, perhaps wax polish, sometimes flowers. It then occurred to me that that is the smell of a Victorian or earlier English church. If I were to put that smell against say a modern built church in sunny California, I'd probably be dead wrong.
Edited further to add
You can pick up on smells of places you haven't been from travel books and autobiography.
Obviously in SFF you can invent smells.
I'm all for smells in books BUT what I am wombling around towards saying, is handle with care and know your limitations. As in if a key part of a character is what they smell and you send them somewhere you've never smelt that really exists, then you could upset readers who have really smelt that.
And on that convoluted note I think I feel lying in the sun and reading a book coming on. (Smell of slightly musty sun lounger that hasn't been used lately, old paperback I am re-reading, sun cream.)
Last edited by Montero; 22nd July 2012 at 01:01 PM.
|22nd July 2012, 01:30 PM||#11 (permalink)|
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: West Sussex
Blog Entries: 8
I think you've shown that smells can be extraordinarily effective in conjuring places or situations, but maybe only ones the reader has experienced. It would be interesting to see if we could get something from a description of a smell we've never encountered.
|22nd July 2012, 02:13 PM||#12 (permalink)|
Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: West Sussex
Interesting, because it does seem to be the one sense that is overlooked... yet it's supposedly the one sense that is most evocative of memories. I have perfume, beeswax, a leather coat, horses, flowers, mulch (the underfoot stuff in forests) and a magical smell of iron "like a nosebleed that's dried" or tainted iron "pigsh*t and sulphur mixed" and the distinctive acid smell of coke burning in a forge... plus all the usual foods and coffees. Ooh,there's the wet smell of sex, also...
|22nd July 2012, 03:24 PM||#13 (permalink)|
J G-Balls: Reindeer Mngr
Join Date: Sep 2011
I'm a smell writer as well (not a smelly writer, though ).
Smells of grass, farming smells, the tang of the sea, and the scent leading to a hidden corpse have all been included. 28 smells in 48k words doesn't seem much to me. In fact, the sense of touch and the sense of smell/taste probably get more description from me than sight and sound, simply because they can be so complex.
|22nd July 2012, 06:32 PM||#14 (permalink)|
not sure if...
Join Date: Mar 2012
Blog Entries: 10
Corpses smell a lot in my wip, as well as blood, and spices (off the top of my head). I'm worse with things like food and the weather...my description of them really is excessive.
*makes note to have things smell more...*
|22nd July 2012, 06:42 PM||#15 (permalink)|
evil thwarting cat ninja
Join Date: Oct 2011
Blog Entries: 46
Distinctive person smells are more prevalent where what one does one moment isn't washed away the next. So it doesn't surprise me that in today's over washed over disinfected society people's smells are limited to what they wash with or have recently eaten.
Smell is highly emotional and a quick way to give away character descriptions. In the example of the woman whose house smelled like cookies and detergent (you said bisects and washing powder I know, but those are different smells from the ones you meant so I translated them into American in my head, then repeated them as I was thinking.) Not only can I picture the inside of the house, fastidiously clean and welcomingly comfortable, bright sunlight through cheerfully curtained windows ect. I can see the yard with its herb and vegetable garden, washing line with soft sheets and towels playing in a fine breeze. And the women herself would have a kindly smile, be sturdy in person, character, and someone people instinctively trust.
All that I got just from those two words.
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