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Smelling of Roses Tags: writing tips

We all know that good stories engage the senses, but sometimes we need to remind ourselves how we can achieve this.

††††††††††† Our sense of smell is one area we often donít consider as much as the other senses. It is a more intrinsic part of us and not one we are always explicit about. But think of the ways that smell can add to a story.

††††††††††† Firstly, smells can help with setting. Consider coconut sunscreen, fish and chips frying, ozone, rotting seaweed and candyfloss and you will have conjured up a seaside landscape without expressly saying so. Likewise antiseptic, boiled cabbage, urine, floor polish and fear might evoke a hospital or old peopleís home.

††††††††††† Smells can also help set an emotion. The sour odour of sweat can show a character is fearful, or a chemical smell might evoke danger and worry. The sweet smell of chocolate can bring happiness and (for me) that first coffee waft of the day brings relief and awakening.

††††††††††† Other smells bring to mind a familiarity or history with a person: lavender for a grandmother or aftershave for a boyfriend; or with an activity like gingerbread at Christmas or pine with cleaning.

††††††††††† A quick search on the internet told me that we react to different types of smell. Different websites offered varied lists but several agreed on the following: fragrant (florals and perfumes), citrus (lemon, lime etc), fruity (non citrus fruits), woody (pine and fresh cut grass), chemical (ammonia, bleach), sweet (chocolate, vanilla), minty (eucalyptus or camphor), toasted and nutty (popcorn, peanut butter), pungent (blue cheese, cigar smoke) and finally decay (rotting meat, sour milk). How many of these do I or you ever think to use in our writing?

††††††††††† A poll by the Daily Mail printed in 2015 recorded the (British) nationís favourite smells as fresh bread baking, cooking bacon and freshly cut grass. At the other end of the scale were bins, drains and body odour. Smelling from either category might determine your characterís mood at any point in time.

††††††††††† But some smells are not static and can reflect a change happening in your story as well. Think of a couple arguing while the toast goes from that nice breakfast smell to the acrid odour of burning, or a cake cooking that turns to carbon while someone sleeps or forgets, or as happens where I live, a farmer starts spreading muck.

††††††††††† And finally the act of smelling has entered our daily language. Will your detective smell something fishy, sniff out the truth or be put off the scent? Can your heroine perceive the sweet smell of success?

††††††††††† As you write your next story, poem or nonfiction piece remember that a smell can offer the reader a short cut to a person, a place or a feeling and tell them something without you necessarily having to explain it.

††††††††††† And youíll be smelling of roses.†

This Week Monday 15th May
Category: Site News
Tags: new. writers abroad

Site News - Monday 15th May

Maggie has added this week's blog on expectations prompted by not hearing immediately from her children at the start of Mother's Day. What are your writing expectations? Do you always expect to write the 'next best thing' or do you need to moderate your expectations and work with goals and hopes instead?

Crilly had posted some writing prompts in the muses†for the week. As always a selection of things for poets, non fiction or fiction writing using pictures, words or phrases.†

The May challenges and opportunities are open with a selection of competitions of different lengths to try or post something different you are working on.†

The Ad Hoc team continue to inspire on the bragging stool.†Well done to all of them. Sue might be away this week but I have no doubt she will still get her challenge in to them...

The next edition of the magazine has been proof read and edited and I'm sure Jo will have it to everyone soon for a final check before it is released on the world.

The next formal chat is on Sunday 21st May with Vanessa in the chair. 11am CET I believe.

I hope I've covered everything. Apologies if I've missed anything or anyone. Have a good writing week!

Travel Broadens the Literary Mind?

(Hallgrimur Helgason reading from his latest book)

Travel Broadens the Literary Mind?

After a few days in Iceland Iíve returned home with the knowledge that this small rocky island in the North Atlantic has a strong literary tradition. As we were told, with a population of roughly 330,000 and one Nobel laureate of literature ó Iceland has the highest ration of literature laureate per capita in the world!

††††††††††† The Icelandic story telling tradition began with the sagas, originally spoken tales mostly based on family and historical events. that took place in the 9th, 10th and 11th centuries. They recorded the struggles and conflict in society including many tit-for-tat killings.

††††††††††† We visited the home of Halldor Laxness (1902-1998), Icelandís laureate, and were given a reading by Hallgrimur Helgason. He read from his latest work, a very funny account of someone trying to make an appointment at the crematorium for himself, and then the poem Suit and Tie that he wrote for the first anniversary of the Icelandic financial crash. You can see him reading the poem on You Tube†.†It is well worth listening to.

††††††††††† One evening we did a literary tour of Reykjavik. Not only was this a great way to see the older buildings in the city and hear the history but it also introduced me to readings from other Icelandic writers. I already knew Yrsa Siguroardottir, but will now make sure I read more of her books. Iím also going to look out for Arnaldur Indrioasun, another contemporary Icelandic crime writer.

††††††††††† Finally at a Ďfireside tales eveningí in the hotel we were entertained by an actress reading excerpts from the sagas, a piece by Laxness, and a charming childrenís story about giants who, story has it, are turned to stone by sun light and since giants are not very bright Iceland is littered with giants who have been turned to stone.

††††††††††† So Iíve returned with a greater understanding of Icelandís literary traditions and a list of authors and books to look out for. Travel can broaden the literary mind.

† † † † † ††

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