Smell is powerful and I don’t mean powerful as in stinky although it can be that too. Do you believe me if I say that smell is emotion? It definitely can be. For many of us a simple smell can evoke memories. Cookies baking may take you back to spending time with your grandmother as a child. The smell of rubbing alcohol may remind you of your time in the hospital after your appendectomy.
So it makes sense that smell should be a part of writing fiction. I think of senses as adding layers, making the scene 3-D. Smell sucks that reader farther into the words and makes them REALLY experience it.
Smell can sometimes be a hard one to add and you don’t want to overwhelm the reader with odors! So smell is used more sparingly (in my humble opinion) than sight or sound.
For me, smell is an ‘afterthought’ in my scenes. I often will add it in during my edits. It doesn’t come to me as readily as sight, sound and touch.
So let’s continue with our excerpt exercise and add in smell.
Susanna slid down the wall next to the rickety cot and blew out a hard breath, the sound echoing loudly in the small space. She closed her eyes and took shallow breaths through her mouth to stop the rancid air from souring her stomach. How long had she been there? There were no windows in her cell so she had no sense of day or night. Why had they taken her? She was a librarian for God’s sake. She knew nothing about someone named Gabriel Sinclair, yet they kept asking her where he was. This whole thing was a case of mistaken identity. She had to make them see reason.
She wiped the blood from her mouth while rationally examining her options. She had not seen her kidnappers’ faces. They had worn masks the whole time and ordered her to keep her eyes to the floor when they entered the room. That was a good sign. Maybe they planned to let her go. If they were working so hard for her not to identify them, all was not lost.
The door squeaked as it opened slowly. Susanna tensed but kept her eyes down. She flinched as each step came closer. A pair of military boots came into her line of sight stopping a foot in front of her. She waited, her heart pounding in her ears.
“Look at me.”
She hesitated. Were they testing her? She didn’t recognize this man’s voice. It was deeper than the others with some sort of accent she couldn’t identify.
“I said look at me.”
She raised her head slowly and met his ice-blue eyes. He was not wearing a mask.
So this is my blog for today.
Task #31 – get those scenes to stinking!