21 December 2009


Having just washed the dog for Christmas, my hands smell of wet dog and dog shampoo despite the efforts of human soap and moisturiser. Which brings me neatly to the impact of scent on writing, or more correctly, how using all senses including that of smell, increases the reader's immersion in a scene.

When I write of gardens, the plants I highlight have a scent. Foods have aroma. Houses smell of their inhabitants' lives. Scent gives us an added dimension in rich world building. It's very nearly a cliche. Fear is sour, romantic heroes smell male (expensive cologne, not stinky sneakers), baby powder is tenderness. Scent cues the emotional atmosphere of a scene.

The photo is by Javier Carro, "The Bird of Self Knowledge" from Tiroler Volkskunstmuseum.

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