Friday, July 8, 2011

Does This Makes Scents to You?

Does This Make Scents to You?

I’m a scent girl. Certain aromas bring back memories.  Whenever I use my Bath & Body WorksForever Sunshine” body wash, I am reminded of my trip to Charleston, South Carolina and all the warm memories of that wonderful vacation come flooding back.  The mixture of humid air filled with the intoxicating scent of grilling sweet onions warps me back to our local autumn Western Fair. Coconut scented sunscreen teleports me back 30+ years to our family weekend trips to Port Stanley beach. Scents are a very powerful thing. That is why I absolutely love when authors include scents in their stories.

I am a firm believer that a story’s setting can be a character unto itself. Accompanying that setting with a descriptive aroma can be very influential and compelling.  The scent description doesn’t have to be pleasant, necessarily. Take Diana Gabaldon’sLord John and the Private Matter’ as an example. The setting is in London, the year is 1745, and the character isn’t quite sure where he is at the moment as he wanders the streets. Add this description to the setting: “Breathing somewhat easier in spite of the mephitis of dog turds and rotten cabbage that surrounded him, he set his steps eastward….”  Okay, I admit that Diana Gabaldon is one of my idols because she is so gifted, but it’s sentences like this that escalate her stories to a higher level for the reader. Who can say that when they read her stories, they are not immediately whisked away to wherever in the world her characters are?

Now let’s move on to more pleasant scents. Men. Oh, yes, I love when an author includes a description of not just what their protagonist looks like but also what he smells like. It’s another element to get lost in while admiring a hero. Sometimes the fragrance doesn’t even need to be a real scent. For instance, the drool-worthy Jack Cole in Shayla Black’s book ‘WickedTies’. He is described as smelling “like midnight and elemental male.” Sadly, you can’t buy a bottle of midnight from the perfume counter, but such a description makes you wish like hell you could.

Let me play fair. I truly love to read about the fresh scents of my beloved female characters too. We’ll turn our focus to Keely McKay in Lorelei James’ book ‘All Jacked Up. I can’t even think about Keely without remembering her lilac scent and what that redolence did to her guy, Jack. “Jack’s body stiffened too – for an entirely different reason. The sweet perfume of spring lilacs wafted toward him. Pure lust grabbed him by the short hairs.”

Are there any memorable scents in fiction or real life that you hold near and dear?


Laurie said...

I have a perfume that when I spray it on me, it totally reminds me of the prickly pear fruit my gramma would pick from our backyard.

Deborah said...

I too love descriptions of scent in books - and I'd love to go to Charleston too. One day...
The best and most fragrant novel ever written must be Patrick Suskind's "Perfume". I think he too has rotting cabbage in his opening paragraph.

Mel Chesley said...

Scent description is sooo important! In my story I have an assassin who smokes something close to clove cigarettes. It's her trademark and anyone who smells that is suddenly gripped by fear. ;)
Excellent post on scents!

Unknown said...

Laurie - nice memory for sure.

Deborah - Chareston was fabulous. I want to go back badly.

Caledonia - great idea to have a certain scent attached to your character. It realy stays with the readers.

Thanks for comments!

Anonymous said...

Scent is just so powerful, some smells still remind me of my days at school, or of past boyfriends (blushes). And this sense is always included in my writing:) Because like you, I loved it when characters are more than just visual... nice post.

Marialina said...

I agree. Scents add a new dimension to romance. I love when characters crave each others' scents. Think of your own life and how catching a scent of a past lover's: leather, sweat, or musk. No matter how faint, it can trigger memories that make you blush in public.