MONDAY CREATIVE WRITING EXERCISE because it’s a good way to start the Christmas holidays – writing with your senses
I wrote about using smell in description a couple of weeks ago and I make no apologies for returning to it because it can create a whole world in a few words.
The French writer Proust wrote about the way a sensory experience can reclaim the past.
“….the greater part of our memory exists outside us, in a dampish breeze, in the musty air of a bedroom or the smell of autumn’s first fires … the last vestige of the past, the best part of it, the part which, after all our tears seem to have dried can make us weep again.”
For Proust, the scent and taste of a cake evoked an entire novel. (Remembrance of Things Past and madeleines.)
Marcel Proust in 1900 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
For many of us the next few days are going to be full of smells that will help us travel back in time. The scent of ‘new’ clothes takes me back to mass on Christmas morning in Amwell Street, just around the corner from Farringdon Station in Central London; the heady mix of aromas from brandy soaked Christmas pudding (can’t stand the taste…but ah, the smell!) is my mother standing at the dinner table looking anxious as she tries to set it on fire
Be receptive to the sights and smells around you.
Does tinsel have a smell? (And I do hope you got the real stuff this year – the artificial kind is never as good.)
Five words to describe the bottle of perfume you’ve just been given. Forget what it says on the box about floral top notes – what does it smell like to you? Be honest – the giver doesn’t have to see YOUR notes.
Three words to describe the smell of Brussel sprouts to someone who has never even seen one, never mind entered a kitchen with steamed up windows where the Brussel sprouts on the hob are the ony thing you can smell…
Brussels Sprouts (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Or perhaps Christmas isn’t your festival.
Or it is your festival but it’s not the kind of Christmas you’re having – either by choice or because sometimes life doesn’t play by the rules. Perhaps the last thing you want to be reminded of is cracker-pulling gaiety…
If that’s the case, see what you can do with this very un-Christmasy list of places. For each once list a smell or smells you associate with it.
Think of an office that you know, you’ve visited or worked in – not some general, generic office or one you’ve seen on television or on film.
1) An office
2) A shop
3) A bedroom
4) A pub
5) A ship or boat
6) A cinema or theatre
Now choose the one that is most vivid to you and write about it.