Characters need to smell the roses too

It’s not enough for characters in fiction to see their enemies, hear gunshots, taste arsenic and feel the fine blade of a dagger at their throats.  Onomatopoeias ( fancy word for spelling out sounds like meow or thwunk) are terrific, but characters, and readers, also need to smell the roses.  And saltpeter. And rotting corpses and the fishmongers down at the wharf and cheap perfume.

Dead Rose

I spent several hours today adding the sense of smell to several characters across several stories. Duncan and the hickory log in his old wood stove. Geira and the sweet smell of bat guano. Lasse and the not so sweet smell of his own boot burning in the fires of Muspelheim. And Buddy and the phantom scent of his murdered wife’s roses.

Overdoing smells of course also has risk–in the middle of battle a swordmaiden is unlikely to ponder if that tinge in the night air is lavender or milkweed.  But still evoking all 5 senses helps the reader put themselves in the story, not just reading it.

And yes I am also a big fan of twunk.  As in an ax blade sinking into a wall.  Or a neck.  Fictionally, of course.

CR Hodges

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