Scent is to me one of the most important senses we have, because it can connect some many things to one smell. I can walk into a room and get a whiff of cookies baking and I am right back in my grandmother’s kitchen, helping her bake. It can bring back emotions, like the smell of pine and wintergreen together gives me those butterflies in my stomach from an old boyfriend, who worked at a wood processing plant and chewed tobacco and that was what his truck smelled liked.
The smell of the seacoast of New England, with it’s brininess drops my blood pressure, because in my life, whenever I smelled that smell it was a positive experience, because I was headed to
the beach, which is my happy place. Many people don’t like the briny brackish smell of the ocean but because of the emotions and experiences I have had I do.
Now, to choose a favorite smell would be hard for me. It will depend what emotion I am trying to invoke. I love the smell of citrus in the morning it is fresh and clean and wakes me up. When I am hungry the smell of roasting garlic will send my stomach growling for more. And when I see a puppy, all I want to do is smell that puppy breath, which I still believe should be bottled and sold as a perfume.
I am currently reading “I Give You My Body”; How I write sex scenes by Diana Gabaldon and she talks about the rule of three when writing a sex scene, but really this works for any scene. In order to ground the reader in the scene and make the scene come to life, you should use at least three of the senses in your description. Gabaldon says if you do this, your scene will work.
I tend to agree with her, but I am more specific. When I include a love scene in my stories, it is not
for the sake of the sex scene. It needs to hold emotional currency to at least one character. So, when writing a love scene in the POV’s character, I try to consider what things will make that character have a visceral reaction. Smell, touch, and sight are always top on the list. And, because the stakes are always higher in a love scene, a person’s senses would be heightened, so the smell of fresh bed linens, that a hero might normally not notice, may in fact impact the experience for whatever reason.
You can also use those same smells to later in the book bring your hero back to that night with the heroine. Maybe he walks down a street and gets a whiff of clothes being dried in a dryer, and immediately thinks about that night. Not at all a sexy smell until it is included in such a state of heightened emotion.
So, for me I don’t know that I have one favorite smell, but instead have many different favorites that can bring to mind memories.
What smells do you find bring back memories for you?
Next up we have Brenda Margriet check her out!