Multi-Sensory Creative Writing: Scent

Scent-related exercise: Think of a scent that brings back strong memories. For me, the smell of waffle cones or funnel cakes always
remind me of Six Flags. Tall grass reminds me of my backyard in West Sullivan. Peppermint, my grandmother’s garden. Freshly baked bread, my grandmother’s kitchen. The smell of Bactine reminds me of the time I fell off my bike and scraped up my elbow. After you think of a scent that means something to you, use it to write a story. It could be your own story, or a story of your creation. You could use it as a flashback moment, or an initial moment in which the strong scent becomes forever etched in the memory of your character. Use the scent to reveal something about your character’s personality. Why is she the way she is? Does the story behind the scent reveal something about her history?

Next, find something in your house that has a scent. A candle, some Ben Gay, almond extract, honey mustard, anything you can find. Now take that scent, and drop it into one of your existing stories. Again, you should use this technique to reveal something about your character.

10 responses to “Multi-Sensory Creative Writing: Scent

  1. This is SUCH an awesome idea. I love it.

    The smell of fresh cut grass reminds me of when I was a little girl living in an apartment with my parents. The “mower men” would come out and cut grass early in the morning.

    The smell of rain reminds me of lining up at the living room window with my sisters and brother to watch the lightning light up the night sky.

    The smell of fresh baked bread reminds me of my dad in the kitchen.

    The smell of peppermint reminds me of my Grandma’s backyard where she had huge patches of peppermint growing. She would make special peppermint tea when we visited.

    The smell of hot chocolate reminds me of camping out in Colorado. I would get up early in the morning and walk across the mountains to the barn where the horses were kept. The smell of horse also reminds me of this memory!

    I think I could just keep on going! I need to put this in story form.

    • My grandmother had peppermint growing in her backyard too! Sometimes we would just pick it and eat it. It didn’t taste real great that way, but at that age, we just thought it was fun to eat plants!

      • I still love the smell of peppermint. Such a great memory. We never ate the peppermint but I always remember it floating in the tea. It smelled and tasted so amazing,

      • I never had peppermint tea. Now I really wanna try some! Will peppermint grow indoors? I wonder what my grandmother used the peppermint for…

  2. This IS great! Thank you.

  3. I’ll definitely have to keep this excerise in mind for my writing. Sights and sounds are important to a story, to be sure, but smells ought not be neglected.
    What’s a scene in a stable without the smells of horses, oats, and dusty leather? A walk in the forest without the smells of wood and leaves, growth and decay? — or along the beach without the smells of sun-warmed sand and the tang of the water?
    Thanks for the reminder to give all the senses their due!

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