Isn’t it interesting that we associate different smells with different things? The other day I was cycling home and, weirdly, I could suddenly smell coconut. It was like the coconut that you have in a moisturiser but for me, it reminded me of sun-cream. It reminded me of that coconut sun-cream you used to get and squirt out in great dollops onto your pale back while you were at the beach. Logically my mind went from coconut to sun-cream, and then from sun-cream it went to holidays.
I could remember distinctly the first holiday my family had abroad when we went to the Greek Island of Corfu. We must have used a ton of sun-cream there, it was so hot and lovely, we spent everyday on the white pebble beaches and in the crystal clear sea. Then my mind wanders forward to happy moments we’ve had while on holiday and I find myself cycling along smiling! Isn’t the human mind marvellous that it can wander over so many different memories and connections just from a smell, (obviously nice smells…..well not always……mmmmm).
I was thinking how crucial this is in writing, and my good friend, M.M. Bennetts
, reminded me of this as well and it changed my approach to writing descriptive prose. When describing, many writers get caught up with describing what we see and not any of what the other four senses ‘see’.
- Take this – ‘The carnival was full of bright colours, there was a silk cover lying over a strangely made wire cage and there was a huge grey elephant taking up most of the tent.’
- Compared to this – ‘The carnival was full of bright colours and the scent of animals mixed with stage make-up. The soft silk brushed past my hand and I could hear the squawk of a bird from the cage beneath. Suddenly I felt cold as the elephant’s huge shadow enveloped me.’
Obviously that’s not class A writing but I hope you get the jist of what I’m saying.
I also hope this helps, it certainly helped me take a leap forward with my writing. People always moan that writers describe too much, and yeah, sometimes they do, but I get angry when they don’t paint the blinkin’ picture! How am I supposed to imagine I’m in the middle of the Arabian desert being chased by nomads when I’m reading if they don’t give me a little help. Like getting a leg-up onto a horse, sometimes the reader’s mind needs a little…..push…..
Remember – Writing is a 3D subject and if you are describing what a person is feeling, they should feel EVERYTHING – So get on it writers and remember, as humans we have allorra lorra senses!