Monday, March 30, 2009

Using the Senses

Every writing instructor and writing instruction book out there will tell you to show, not tell. One of the key parts of this glorified mantra is making sure every scene comes alive to all the senses. For me, smell is the hardest to remember.

Smell plays a key part in my daily life. (Remember the gum that made me pissy? The molding green tea/skunk smell in my kitchen, thanks to my neighbors?) Bad breath can turn a conversation sour. Sweet perfumes can cheer up a mood. The delicious smell of French fries will always make me hungry, no matter if I'm, say, stuffed to the gills with Mexican food or not.

I have to remind myself, when writing, to be so in the scene that I can feel the air-conditioned air against Madison's skin, see the evil creature she's stalking (and feel all the crazy looks she's getting), hear the blare of Christmas music on the mall's recessed speakers, and, yes, smell the cinnamon of Cinnabon.

I'm sure this week's NON author, Margaret Ronald, doesn't have a problem remembering to write in the odors of her world in Spiral Hunt. Her main character can track anything by scent. To read more about her new novel and her path to publication, check out today's Number One Novels post.

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