Monday, September 6, 2010
The scent of Magic - smells in books
As mentioned in my previous post, I like humour in a book - and a lot of that humour has an organic base. Which leads me to my latest topic - smells in books.
I love a good smell in a book - when an author describes something that is particularly pungent whether pleasantly so - or not, really helps create a world.
I particularly love details on breath and body odour. How good or bad that person smells will significantly dictate how your characters will react to them. So choosing to give a character a bad case of halitosis or body odour like a putrefying onion similarly evokes a reaction from the reader.
Selecting nice smells as well as bad,is also so important. I was told by friends years ago that "hay scented breath" made the hero sound like horse! What a shame! So I tried it out again with my Critique partner and she laughed out loud at the description... It just doesn't work apparently! It's a pity because hay smells so nice. Maybe it has to be a body-odour description alone. Either way, it's a nice descriptor for a Satyr or Centaur!
When choosing a smell for my Genies, I went for spicy smoke. Imran's magic smells like cinnamon and allspice (yum!). The scents are evocative, and used enough to be almost tangible when you're reading.
Odours, perfumes, aroma's and stinks - whether they hang like a rotting miasma, or whisper on a soft breeze are an integral part of story-telling, and should never be overlooked.