Posts Tagged ‘descriptions’ Archive

The Often Forgotten Sense of Smell

Of the five senses, I often find myself completely forgetting about smell. Isn’t it said that smell is very important in unlocking memories? How awesome is that – it’s a perfect way to lead into memories in your WIP.

The smell of lemon drops will forever remind me of my Grandmother (or is that Dumbledoor?? haha) and the smell of a new shampoo will always make me think of my sister. What smells conjure memories for you and how do you add this into your writing?

My MC has a very strong sense of smell. After getting my first pages back from my crit partners I realized I used the word smell, scent, sniff wayyy too many times and needed to figure out new ways to describe scent. So, without further ado, here are some tips for writing about the sense of smell. (Most of these are pared down from http://www.wikihow.com/Describe-a-Smell.)

  1. Are there images or memories associated with the smell? What is your gut reaction when you think of the smell? Feelings or emotions?
  2. Use adjectives- wispy, rancid, airy, musty, stale. Adjectives will describe the effect of the smell.
  3. Use nouns and be specific – is the smell of chocolate milk or dark, or is it the smell of hot fudge to be poured over ice cream? Or is it chocolate with a hint of raspberry? All of these scents will elicit different emotions from your reader and your MC.
  4. Use verbs – waft, distract, hint, permeate, suggest, confuse. Suggest the source: are you baking or frying? Sweating from a hard run or desire? Visualize what it does – creep into the nose, wrap around, follow, bombard.
  5. Borrow words from other senses: sight – bright, dark, clear, hazy; sound – dissonant, harmonious, loud, quiet; touch – sharp, dull, rough, smooth; taste – sweet, salty, bitter.
  6. What is the reaction to the smell? Do you relax, stiffen, pucker. Is it startling, jarring, soothing or comforting?
  7. And of course, the good old metaphor. The smell of hot dogs hit me like a tornado.

Are there any other tricks you like to use when writing about the sense of smell? What other senses do you find yourself forgetting to write about?

Disagreement with My Teacher

Blog on Fire AwardFirst, award time!  The fabulous Kate Larkindale gave me this award (Kate, I’d give it to you also, but I’m not sure if that’s allowed).  Her blog is great; go check it out.

Aaand here are five of my favorite blogs I am passing it on to:

  1. Sophia
  2. Angela
  3. Christie
  4. Gabi
  5. Deana

At some point in my elementary education I had the following conversation (probably more of an argument, or a Juliana-being-stubborn moment) with a teacher about a paper I had written:

Teacher: Juliana, this is very good, but I want us to look at one particular word you used to describe this man. (points to paper)

Me: (Silence)

Teacher: You use the word nice.  Are there any other words you can think of that would be more specific?

Me: …he was nice…

Teacher: Yes, but nice is a very generic word.  Think hard, is there another word you could use?

Me: But he was nice.

Teacher: I am sure though, that there is a better way to describe him than just plain nice.

Me: (Silence )

I don’t remember how the conversation ended, but I have the very vivid memory of standing beside my teacher, at her desk, arguing over the word nice.  I really did not understand why the word nice wasn’t good enough.

I have that same conversation with myself many times while writing.

Inner me: Oh honestly, you know better than to use the word shrug.  And did I see you write NOD earlier?  She nodded??  How boring.

Me: But she did nod, how else am I supposed to write that?

Inner me: Oh, I don’t know, how about her hair fell over her eyes as she tilted her head to the side, that is much more interesting.

Me: I suppose that’s better…

Inner me: You know it is.  Plus, did she really nod?  Maybe she stared at him blankly or maybe she blinked once to indicate she had heard him.  Maybe she thinks he’s an idiot and stuck her tongue out and blew a raspberry.

Me: I don’t know.  You’re confusing me.

Inner me:  I’m confusing you?! And how do you not know?  You’re writing it!  She can do anything you want her to.

I have this discussion with myself at least fifty times while writing a WIP.  Ugh, it’s terrible and oh so annoying.

Are there any words you insist on using even though you know they aren’t good enough?