Stinky Writing (and by stinky, I mean powerful!)

“The timing of the electrical failure seemed dramatic and perfectly correct, as if the lights had said, “You have no need for sight. Listen.” -Ann Patchett, BEL CANTO.

“You’re obsessed with reading,” commented my daughter recently.  True.  I’ve been following a particularly rich breadcrumb path left by reviewers and bloggers and friends, which has led me to some great works.  I’ve begun acting a little like an addict:  keeping a hidden stash for backup, making sure I always have some with me, constantly thinking about my next score.

While I’m reading something that delights me, I try to focus on the exact what that makes the writing so engaging.  What has been rising to the surface for me is the power of a good description.

Of the five senses, I think most writers (myself included) focus mostly on sight and sound.  Think ‘streaks of dusky gray and white bleaching the blue sky’, or, ‘the loud clanging of the bell broke the hush of the early dawn.’

I think that’s why it’s always so pleasing to come across a really great description of smell or taste or touch.  If you’re writing today, I encourage you to close your eyes and smell, feel, and taste what your character is experiencing.  Here are a few talented examples to whet your appetite:

“She smelled like rotten flower vase water”- Jo Knowles, PEARL. (Seriously, smell some.  Your nose hairs will burn).

[A raisin roll]:  “That stretchy softness, warm to the teeth, black fruit off mountain vines popping like music.” – Anneli Rufus, White on White Lunch for When No One Is Looking, from ALONE IN THE KITCHEN WITH AN EGGPLANT, edited by Jenni Ferrari-Adler.

“…dig down in with your fingers and tear it loose.” -Lois Lenski, COTTON IN MY SACK.

Breathe deeply, pick up a book, and enjoy!

3 thoughts on “Stinky Writing (and by stinky, I mean powerful!)

  1. So true, need to include them … Cinnamon always evokes good times around the holidays, but gingerbread- I have a dread of gingerbread. Maybe I’ve read one too many picture books! Also, I am in cahoots with your reading addiction:)

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