Stinky Scenes

I’ve been talking about putting senses in your fiction. Description can go a long way towards setting a scene. For full immersion in a scene, you need all five senses. That’s not to say that you need to put them all into every scene. That would get old rather fast.

That said, you need at least sight in each scene or your reader won’t know what’s going on. Sound can govern  dialog. The sense of touch can be in the scene or not, depending on the scene. A phrase here, a word there can convey a lot, if it’s the right word or phrase. Your reader would see, hear and feel what your viewpoint character does. However some scenes need more.

If your character is having a meal, we need more than just what the meal looks like. We need a sense of how it smells and tastes. Again, a light touch is best. Choose the sensation of smelling the food and indicating it in the scene.

The aroma of popcorn reminded him of how long it had been since he’d been to a movie theater. It also reminded him that breakfast was a long time ago and now his stomach rumbled in response.

You know the character is somewhere where popped popcorn is sold. He, whoever he is, can smell it. Such a scene enhancer can serve as a transitional phrase as well. Send a character to bed and waken her in the morning to the smell of bacon. Give clues to the weather through smell.

It rained during the night. The puddles told me that, if the smell of mud and wet grass hadn’t alerted me to the fact.

See? Two sentences told us the character was someplace where it had recently rained, there was mud and grass. It helps readers to form images in their minds as they read the text. You can also use the sense of smell to foreshadow in the short term.

He pushed open the boathouse doors and caught the scent of dead fish, earthworms, and something else. Something acrid and metallic, but he couldn’t figure out the smell. He fumbled along the wall, and finding the light switch, flooded the small space with light. He wished he’d left the light off. The metallic smell was blood. Selma lay across the bow of the rowboat, her blood dripping into the boat from the gash across her throat. He dropped the paper bag containing his lunch. Soon the stench of his breakfast, as it passed back up through his mouth joined the fishy odor. It mixed with the aroma of death that filled the tiny boathouse.

Such descriptions can add layers of emotion on a scene. It can help the reader identify with the point of view character as well. Who wouldn’t toss their breakfast if confronted with a scene like the one in that paragraph. Who couldn’t picture the scene? The use of scent and taste can create a moods and description beyond the usual sights and sounds. Use them sparingly, and you will have an excellent scene to plunge your reader into the story.


I am not one who is comfortable talking about myself but here goes. I enjoy writing, family history, and reading. I decided to do this blog because I wanted to try something new. I decided to make it a weekly blog because I wasn't sure that I could keep up with a daily one, and monthly seemed like I was writing a magazine. I think I did ok with my choices. You'll notice that there are not a lot of graphics on my site. That's because there are graphics plastered everywhere on the Internet and those sites sometimes take forever to load. This blog is a place where you can kick back, relax and be ready to be amused. At least I hope I willbamuse you. This blog is on a variety of subjects from my ficitional cat agency, the FFL, which is monthly, to instructional blogs to editorials, which are my opinions only. I admit that I don't know everything and could be wrong -- I frequently am. Now, stop reading about me and read what I have to say!

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Posted in General Opinion, Writing Techniques

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© Lisa Hendrickson and Pebblepup's Writing Den, 2010-2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Lisa Hendrickson and Pebblepup's Writing Den with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.
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