Editing Tip #89 – Evoking the Senses Pt.4: Smell

Our brain works on triggers: the baking your grandmother did every Sunday afternoon when she babysat you; your husband’s deodorant; your lover’s aftershave; that farm down the road from your childhood home that always smelled like sheep s**t in the spring… the power of scent in our lives is truly phenomenal and yet when we write our stories (real or perceived) we often forget to include the impact of scent in our descriptions – It’s time to right that wrong πŸ˜‰

Previously in this series I focused on SIGHT, TOUCH & SOUND

Today we place SMELL under scrutiny.

Last week I mentioned that the tie for the 2nd-most forgotten about sense was awarded to Sound & Smell. Intrinsically our first drafts revolve around sight and touch (especially if it’s a romance!). Consider though, how layering just the right hint of scent at a pivotal moment could help bring your descriptions into a 3-D world from a simple 2-D page.

Last week’s example (including sound):

Jeremy leaned forward, crunching small twigs under his knees. Touching his nose to Sarah’s his hot rapid breath eased with every passing second. She closed her eyes, not sure what to expect considering they could be discovered at any moment. The war waging inside her chest matched the scattered wing-beats of a flock of birds.

Now with a hint of SMELL:

Jeremy leaned forward, crunching small twigs under his knees. The cloying scent of rotting bark and leaves assaulted Sarah’s senses; fighting back the memory of her last hike in the woods… the last time she felt truly at peace, she swallowed against a dry throat. Jeremy touched his nose to Sarah’s, his hot rapid breath eased with every passing second. She closed her eyes, fighting the urge to bury her head in the crook of his neck and breathe in the clean, soapy scent of his clothes – not sure what to expect considering they could be discovered at any moment. The war waging inside her chest matched the scattered wing-beats of a flock of birds.

The added texture and background information does not slow the action too much here (and that’s important). It provides just a hint of detail to activate that all important sensory connection and bring greater depth to both Jeremy and Sarah.

Now it’s your turn πŸ˜€

Happy Editing!


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