Monday, June 2, 2014

Emotional Senses

Over Memorial Day, my sister and her husband invited us to go to a park with them for some roasted hot dogs.  We were excited because it was finally warm enough that was an option!

When we got there, we started the fire, and I’ll admit that the little girl in me did a giddy dance.  There’s something about campouts and smores and just sitting around the fire that brings back the best of memories.  Everything from Family Reunions to Girls’ Camps to activities with friends in high school.

Picture taken by me

Sure the burning of the fire was a great visual, but that wasn’t what triggered the happy feelings.  It was the smell.  I’m a sucker for the smell of campfire.  Random, I know.  When we got home, my husband wanted to shower right away because he thought we stunk.  I wanted to bask in the smell for just a bit longer.

When writing, there’s the tendency to focus on sights.  After all, most of us are very visual learners.  I tend to remember faces much better than I remember names.  (Okay, maybe not just a tendency.  I can’t remember names at all.)  There’s a reason why teachers use chalkboards, whiteboards and PowerPoint Presentations.  We all want to see it for ourselves.

But is there any sight that can evolve the same memories and emotions as a smell?  In my own humble opinion (and feel free to disagree), I think that smell and taste are the two most emotional of the senses.

Remember the scene in the Parent Trap?  The really old one?  The first time Susan meets her grandfather, she smells him.  Then she says, “All my life, when I’m quite grown-up, I will always remember my grandfather and how he smelled of tobacco and peppermint.”

In one of my favorite animated movies, Anastasia can’t remember anything about her past.  At least, she can’t until she catches a whiff of her grandmother’s perfume.  The smell is enough to open up the gates.

I’ve been working on using more smells in my writing.  Smells that the readers will know.  Ones that could set the scene better than if I described every piece of furniture. 

What’s your favorite smell?