Traveling right along on our tour, we come to our second-to-last sense - SMELL.
Glade’s not wrong when it says its scents are “Inspired by the best feelings in the world.” Smell is a powerful trigger for memories and actions—one we can put to use in our writing.
Smell as a Worldbuilding Tool
Describing odors in a great way to anchor readers quickly within your world, whether it’s the damp, fresh-earth smell of a deep jungle, the stale air of an old prison cell, or the exhaust fumes of an industrial city. Take us there!
Smell as a Warning
Scents also mean many things beyond setting. Often, they signal a sign of danger or a coming twist—almost a foreshadowing, if you will. A smoky smell alerting characters to fire, sulfur warning of a demon the moment before it appears.
There’s a reason animals wiggle their noses so often to smell the air. Use it as a way to perk up your characters (and the readers) by saying “This is new. This is different. Pay attention.”
Smell as Comfort
The opposite of danger works just as well with smells. Warm foods roasting over a fire, the smell of home, even the specific perfume or scent of a loved one. Smells can set the mood.
Fun with Juxtaposition
Try surprising readers with your combinations. Maybe the scent of roses, normally an enjoyable aroma, means evil (We’re looking at you President Snow). If you’re writing a zombie romance, the smell of death might actually bring a smile to your characters’ faces (What’s left of them).
Let’s look at how the examples are shaping up:
Lovers on a Beach
I couldn’t see the stars, not directly, but I didn’t know how they could possibly top their reflection in his eyes. His skin was slick, smooth and hard, though tender enough to give where my fingers caressed it. His lips still held the salt of our swim. Its pucker on my tongue sent memories cascading through me like the waves and the heat that had driven us under again and again. He smelled of sunscreen, salt and sweat.
There, beneath all that deliciousness, a deeper more hurtful flavor took shape. The taste of goodbye.
I drew a soft, swift breath through my nose. The scent of decay and clove. Then I saw them. Dozens of them. Winging at me with their little claws out—furred, like a bear’s, not feathered. And then all went black. Omigosh, had one of them landed on my FACE?! I tasted iron. Blood, at the corner of my mouth. That would attract them. I spat before it could fill my mouth and curdle my already panicked stomach.
My hand grappled in the night, found something that felt like lace spun in a consistency of dead things. It sunk in when I pressed hard, and I stifled a cry of horror.
Looking for SIGHT, TOUCH and TASTE? Find them here.