Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Sniff or Snort

I'm doing a fiction writing workshop with A. Catherine Noon through the Writer's Retreat Forum. It's been slow-starting because my slackerific ass has been virtually non-existent online the past month. But, I have been reading. We're on to chapter three: Characters.

Why is this relevant? One of my fleeting thoughts was wondering how to show and not tell things about characters. For some reason, I made the leap to integrating all the senses. And THAT got me thinking . . . what smells might affect a certain character in a certain way? Basically, the idea is that each person has a catalog of smells that have certain meanings to them, that evoke strong memories or emotions.

Here are thirteen scents that get a strong reaction out of me . . .

Thirteen of Gwen's Sniff and Snort Worthy Scents

1. Lilacs.
Where I grew up, there were huge lilac trees everywhere. Not only is this my favorite flower and my favorite floral scent, but it takes me back to age five - lime popsicles and running through the sprinkler.

2. Spaghetti sauce.

Nothing says you're home like walking in the door to the infusion of basil, garlic and tomato . . .

3. That stale smell of the box that has all the holiday decorations in it.

The decorating is my favorite part, so this smell always gets me excited for the holiday season.

4. Ralph Lauren Polo Sport.

Hubby's eau de choice when he first swept me off my feet, still makes my heart flutter. I can hone in on it in a crowd from fifty yards away.

5. Sea air.

The first hint of chilled salt that comes miles before you can actually see the ocean. It just makes me feel free.

6. The great white belly.

I love to nuzzle my cat Oliver's tummy. He smells like popcorn flavored Jelly Bellies. No joke.

7. Banana fragrance of any kind.

If you want to see me gag - bring out a whif of this stuff. When I was little, my mom put this nasty stuff on my fingernails to keep me from chewing them. It was very close to Banana. I gagged and hacked, but I still chewed.

8. Airplanes.

There are two many wrong smells here to mention. Just about any one of them can get my body pumping adrenaline.

9. Cinnabon.

Even if I'm not hungry, this smell can make my mouth water.

10. Patchouli incense.

Not my favorite scent, but it is my mom's, so it's comforting by default.

11. Fresh Mint.

Naturally refreshing and invigorating, but it reminds me of a HUGE garden we had once. I spent the whole summer grazing. Or it also makes me think of Mojitos, which are also good. *grin*

12. Cigarette smoke.

I don't care if it's rude, I hack all over anyone who dares to smoke anywhere near me. I can smell it on breath, clothes, furniture. I have to wash my clothes and shower immediately if I'm anywhere where there's smoke. Just yuck. Srsly.

13. Wood smoke.

Funny, but this has the opposite effect of that *cough*other*cough* kind. I love to camp, or to have a fire blazing for any reason. This smell just makes me want to snuggle up.

What scents do you love/hate and why?

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Debbie Mumford said...

Excellent list, and yes, the sense of smell can bring on some heavy duty memories / emotions...built-in buttons we may not even be aware of. Great stuff to explore when building a character. Thanks for bringing it up!

Adelle said...

I love the scent of freshly mown grass. I detest the smell of gasoline.
Happy T13!

Lia Morgan said...

Peppermint used to be a smell that I loved. I don't anymore.

We use peppermint oil at the hospital to cover up incredibly noxious odors. So I have now come to associate it with something I never want to smell again.

My childhood smell is honeysuckle. I love it. I have honeysuckle lotion to remind me of it.

Tempest Knight said...

Love the ones you mentioned - lilacs, cinnamon, sea air, mint, and patchouli. *wg* I also like the smell of vanilla, chocolate, cherry, strawberry, pizza, oranges... okay, now I'm making myself hungry... I also love the smell of the earth after the rain. :)

Paige Tyler said...

Great list! I absolutely love lilacs! I'd add chocolate and coffee, too!


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Alice Audrey said...

To this day lilacs make me think of a particular block on my home town where I used to pluck them as I walked by.

I see a connection between airports and Cinnabon too.

Heather said...

Great list, Gwen! I also hate the smell of cigarette smoke. I have scent allergies, so any "perfumey" scent, including cleaners, is on my "bad smell" list.

Smells I love include baked chicken, fudge, cinnemon and wood fires (esp pine or apple - mmm).

Nina Pierce said...

Oh, some of yours were great. I love the smell of a camp fire. Warm and cozy. Citrus. Lemon or Limes. They're just so "fresh" to me. And my guy wore Brut. But he thinks it's too much of a "kid" smell. I still love it when he wears it.

Nina Pierce said...

Oh, forgot my link ...


A. Catherine Noon said...

I like your list. I love scent. A Natural History of the Senses might be a fun read for you, if you haven't already. I love my cat Belii's tum tum - he smells sweet. (Farts like the Devil himself though.)

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

Good list, Gwen. And glad to know you're still around!

Shelley Munro said...

I hate cigarette smoke. I used to work in a pub and by the end of the night my clothes and hair would stink.

I love the scent of chocolate, freshly mown grass, my dog when she's had a bath!, lavender, fresh herbs and so many others.

Unhinged said...

This was a GREAT idea and I think I agree with your opinions on every one (except for banana). I like the smell of a banana...but I was never a nail-biter. I was thumb sucker!

Ms Menozzi said...

As someone afflicted with an over-sensitive sense of smell, I am with you on just about all of these - with the exception of cinnabon. That place just about kills me! I'm allergic to cinnamon, though, and the smell is enough to start me itching...

I don't know about the cologne. My hubby doesn't use cologne at all, he just smells like, um... Hubby! :)

I don't have a kitty (YET!), but I'm curious to see if my kitty will smell as nice as yours does. I'm a wee bit jealous of a popcorn-scented kitty... How fun! :)

Here I have a two-fer flower scent that I love (the only thing that I like about Spring/Summer here, in fact): honeysuckle (smells like home!) and lime flowers (which smell like Tootsie Roll Pops).

MMMMMmmmmm... Yummy!

Great list! Happy (belated) TT!


Eaton Bennett said...

Great list Gwen! Smells, aromas, perfunes all have the ability to bring memories crashing down on us, some are wonderful and some are awful. Your pic of the Lilacs took me way back to my mom's garden and me a little girl. That garden was full of delights - very fond memories :)

Kerry Allen said...

My dog smells like saltine crackers... except when she smells like she's rolled in something decomposing, like today.

And I personally don't think it's at all rude to hack and gag when somebody's asphyxiating you with toxic fumes, and as you know, my manners are impecable...