Prepared by: Florence Cardinal
Posted on: September 28, 2003
Reposted on: August 14, 2005
The sense of smell influences our choices
and our thinking more
often than we
realize. In fact, it can even cause a complete change of heart.
For instance, a woman gets on the bus and
sees this terribly
gentleman sitting there. She sits down beside him expecting the aroma
spicy after-shave. Instead, his strong body odor almost makes her gag.
she doesn't find him so attractive anymore.
Or perhaps it's the other way around.
Something that at first holds
appeal - perhaps a person, a flower, a food you've never tried -
appealing when you get a whiff of its delightful scent.
Smell is the most evocative of all the
senses - the one most likely
back memories. For example, what if that man on the bus was wearing
after-shave, but it was the same brand as the woman's ex-husband?
the unpleasant memories are brought back, and the attractive stranger
lost behind them.
On the other hand, Perhaps someone she
didn't even notice is wearing
after-shave that reminds her of someone she loved dearly - her father
lover who has died or gone away. The person wearing that scent now has
attention and she finds herself attracted to him.
The aroma of roses from a hidden garden
brings back memories of the
she was raised. The smell of cinnamon rolls baking reminds someone of
Pursuing this further - are there
circumstances where body odor
might be less
unpleasant? Husband comes home from a hard day's work, his wife savors
honest scent of him (before sending him off to shower prior to dinner.)
For this exercise, in 300 words or less,
describe how someone's mind
by the sense of smell.
As you critique, mention if the writer
uses the sense of smell in an
original way. Mention weaknesses and strengths in how the character's
sense of smell changes his or her mind. Give the writer thoughtful
feedback that may be useful in a rewrite.
Florence Cardinal's wrap-up
Posted on: October 5, 2003
This was a very prolific week with over 30
subs and an average of
four or five
critiques on each. And what an amazing variety of aromas. My nose still
Several of you chose the smell of food, an
excellent reminder of
places gone by
whether it's a favorite restaurant or the smell of home cooking. Others
gamut from places the river, the ocean to Venice and its canals. A few
sweet smells - roses, cologne and perfume, incense.
The ones I found most interesting were
about not so pleasant odors -
clothing, even dirtier diapers, stale cigarettes.
This was one of the exercises we run to
show how using the five
evoke memories, whether its the sense of smell, taste, sight, hearing
Taste the homemade ice-cream, see an old red barn like grandpa had,
song that was playing the first time you made love, run your hand over
texture of a velvet shirt. Oh, and don't forget to stop and smell the
Use your senses to bring back memories to
add color and flavor to
We all have memories. They just need awakening.
Patricia Johnson 's
Posted on: Sun, 21 Aug 2005
A few things occurred to me as I read this
First, how original the stories were. Second, how much freedom smell
allows in weaving its way through a story; which may be an asset to
improving an existing story - just add some well thought out
sense-of-smell elements. Smell it up a bit. Third, the freedom smell
allows to blend different scents. For instance, a walk in the park with
the scents of lilacs and roses is a different walk entirely from a walk
in the park with the scents of lilacs and rotting lake vegetation. This
exercise is not difficult technically, but it can be used to learn how
smell can affect a story. Homework: update a stalled story or paragraph
with some smells. Whew!
Thanks to everyone who participated with
subs and crits. Special
thanks to those of you who posted some especially thoughtful critiques.
Web site created by
Rhéal Nadeau and
the administrators of the Internet Writing Workshop.
Modified by Gayle Surrette.