Editing for Sensory Language Part 2 SMELL

~ The Olfactory Sense: Using Our Nose ~

Smell is one of the most powerful of our senses. Smell forms and solidifies memories and evokes the emotions. A familiar odor can bring back an image or event from the past. Smells influence the choices we make and can change our mood and our behavior.

Real estate agents know to scent houses on the market with baking smells and soft florals. A night club experiment showed that adding a pleasant scent to the air made patrons dance more and say they had a better time than when there were no scents added. Another study showed that people can sense fear in someone’s sweat.

If scents and odors can do this to us, they must certainly do the same things to the characters in our books. Even more importantly, evoking the sense of smell in our reader will make our story more memorable, more emotional, and more realistic.

Smell The Senses

 

When to Add Smells

Smell is so important that most scenes should mention a smell at least once and is especially powerful in the starting paragraph or as near to it as possible. Here are some other places to insert a olfactory note.

Add in a smell/scent/aroma/reek:

  1. Whenever a character enters a new location, room, building or revisits one – describe the initial smell and then how it changed
  2. When the POV (point of view) character meets a new or important person
  3. When outside in nature or a garden
  4. When sensing danger – the release of adrenaline intensifies one’s sense of smell.
  5. During romantic moments

Smell The scent of hair

 

Some Smelly Examples

Here are some examples of olfactory description from my upcoming romantic suspense release Close to the Skin Book 2 in the Skin Quartet.

Bella stuck the bag over her mouth and nose and gasped in ham-and-mustard scented air like a drowning victim pulled out of the depths.

 

The narrow corridor was dank and dark, most of the overhead lights smashed out, the air stinking of decaying garbage and decaying lives.

She pulled the door open, and the sickly sweet odor of something rotten hit her full in the face.

A whiff of stone cold damp and death brushed past her from the shadowed interior.

Smell Resources for Writers

 

Smells and Emotions 

Smell Lists

The 10 Basic Smells 

A Basic Smell Vocabulary

https://robinwoodsfiction.com/tag/list-of-smells/

http://goteenwriters.blogspot.com/2015/09/a-list-of-smells-and-tastes.html

Lists of Fragrances

http://theperfumedcourt.com/fragrance_families.aspx perfume chemistry

https://www.somethinspecial.com/list_of_fragrances_a/131.htm perfumes

http://www.woodlandherbs.co.uk/acatalog/aromatherapy_essential_oils_list.html  Essential oils


How often do you use smells in your writing?

What “smell” resources do you use?

I welcome your thoughts and comments.

Editing for Sensory Language

– Weaving in the Seven Senses –

As you can tell from the title I am still editing. I have gone over my current manuscript for all the big things. Now it is time for me to add those little details that raise ordinary writing to the level that touches the reader emotionally. This is especially important in romance.

EYE The Senses

Identifying the Senses

One way to do this is to make sure that all the senses are included in every scene. So let’s start with listing the senses. I’m sure you all learned the five senses in kindergarten: Touch, Taste, Smell, Hearing, and Sight. However, there are two other senses.

The Vestibular Sense, located in the inner ear and in sensors Hand The Senseslocated in the soles of our feet, tells us where our body is in space and provides feedback on balance, coordination and movement.

The Kinesthetic Sense or Proprioceptive System provides input on the way our bones, tendons, and muscles are functioning and provides feedback on the functioning of our body in terms of pressure, contraction, stretching, and so on. (Note: They probably don’t teach these last two in kindergarten because they are really hard to spell.)

Using the Senses in Writing Fiction

Incorporating these seven senses in every scene may seem like a challenge. But actually once a writer is aware of the need to do so, it becomes a simple matter of reading through the scene and:

Highlight

 Circle or underline or highlight every sensory element in the scene. I like to use different color markers for each of the senses if I am working on a printout. If I am working on the computer, I use the highlighter tool.

Search and Insert

If I have already incorporated all the relevant sensory elements, I quickly move on to the next. If I haven’t, I need to find the perfect spot to insert that sensory description. To determine the best location, I have made myself seven index cards on which I have noted  places those senses work best or carry the most weight.

Experience It

When I am writing the sensory description, I try as much as possible to actually experience that sensation. I taste the food item. I search out an aroma. I even balance on one foot or walk on different surfaces. It is actually one of the parts of writing I really enjoy.

In my next series of journal entries, I will explore each of these senses in my own writing and the writing of my favorite authors. 

Smell The Senses

What method do you use to add sensory description to your writing?