Tuesday, January 09, 2007


This morning I put a turkey in the oven for dinner.
Then, I went about my business of taking the K's to school and making a quick grocery store run. By the time I returned, the bird was far enough into the cooking cycle to notice. Man, does it smell good in here.
And I started thinking...
About smells and how they create moods.
Like this turkey for example. It's a comforting and homey smell. As soon as I walked in the door and took a whiff, the stress of morning traffic and rushing around for the previous 2 hours dissipated.
A lot different than walking in and catching a whiff of the cat box.
Everyone already knows that certain odors can lift your mood, or put you in a worse one. That's not really my point. What smells good to me might make you sick and vice versa. I hate the smell of bubble gum and spearmint. B hates butterscotch. Mostly that kind of stuff is related to prior trauma, as well as the history behind the odors you find comfort in.
I guess what I'm thinking about is creating those same mood in my books.
What if the hero came home for Thanksgiving dinner only to find his entire family murdered? He wouldn't think the smell of turkey cooking was pleasant because it would remind him of that awful day.
What if the heroine found freedom from an abusive relationship thanks to a skunk? That smell would remind her of all she gained, even though she might not want to breathe it in too deeply.
In my current work in progress, one of the heroines is a motorcycle mechanic. (Actually, she customizes and restores motorcycles, but you get the gist.) To her the smell of grease, exhaust and parts cleaner means her world is right.
Then again, if you're reading a book and you have an aversion to say, chewing gum, (ha ha) and one of the characters finds comfort in that smell, would if deter you from really liking that character?
Anyway, before I continue to ramble and totally lose track of my thoughts, my little brain blast this morning makes me aware of how, even between the pages of a book, smell can affect us. That's something I need to pay attention to a little bit more. I think as writers (at least for me)we tend to overlook adding that sense because no one can smell it anyway. But we all know certain smells - like the turkey, the cat box and coffee brewing. Just mentioning them can evoke emotion. And I think that's my point. Yeah, I'm pretty sure it is.

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