The Scent of a Scene by Cari Davis

Tautumn-avenue-benchhe earthy aroma of fallen leaves. Pies baking in the oven. Chimney smoke filling the crisp, cool air. Pumpkin and spice. The scents of autumn bring to my mind cozying up with my husband, spending time with family, and an end to the long, hot days of summer.


The fragrance of flowers in bloom, freshly mowed grass, and burgers cooking on a nearby grill stir up different emotions and different memories.

Over the summer, I posted a blog about using the sense of hearing in your writing. Today, I want to talk about the sense of smell. Let’s call this part two of what I imagine will be a five part series. The scents of a scene can often bring an otherwise two dimensional setting to life.

In each setting, what would characters smell? Tobacco? Books? Sweat? Imagine your hero is strolling along a road. You can give your reader a sense of where he is without ever describing what he sees. Does he smell car exhaust fumes? Does he smell food? If so, what kind? Does he smell trees, flowers, fertilizer? The stink of a nearby paper mill or oil refinery? You get the idea.

In romance, you often find the hero and heroine noticing the scent of one another. This is a great place to be creative and make your characters unique. Not every man smells like cedar. Not every woman smells like roses, or any flower for that matter. In my current WIP, Tarnished Copper, my heroine wears perfume scented with orange water and cinnamon. Be original!


Our sense of smell often evokes strong memories and plays a large part in determining our emotions. There’s a whole field of science behind aromatherapy and perfume chemistry for this very reason, but I won’t go into that here. Luckily, you don’t need a science degree to use scents in your writing. What smells linger in your protagonists memories? How can you use them to arouse emotions and propel the story forward?

You can find Cari Davis at any of the links below:

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Pinterest | Google+

Fool's Gold #16 Final 400x600

Fool’s Gold ~ Forged Hearts Book One

About cdavis3

Author of historical romantic suspense. Photo by Sarah McTernen
This entry was posted in Cari Shares!, Settings, Soul Mate Publishing, Writing. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to The Scent of a Scene by Cari Davis

  1. Hello, Cari. Good post. I have anosmia, and have never had a sense of smell for anything–good, bad or anywhere in between. As a writer, this has always been a challenge for me, leading to asking people “what does… smell like?” or researching descriptions of things like cut grass when it cannot be put into words. Some things need to be experienced I suppose. Best wishes.

  2. cdavis3 says:

    Thanks! Sometimes it’s a challenge to describe scents that I’ve smelled before. I can only imagine how difficult it would be with anosmia.

  3. Shari says:

    Well written, love you.

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