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Exercise: Stop and smell the roses

These exercises were written by IWW members and administrators to provide structured practice opportunities for its members. You are welcome to use them for practice as well. Please mention that you found them at the Internet Writers Workshop (http://www.internetwritingwor kshop.org/).

Prepared by: Florence Cardinal
Posted on: Sun, 19 Aug 2001
Reposted on: Sun, 15 Sep 2002

The sense of smell influences our choices and our thinking more often than e realize. In fact, it can even cause a complete change of heart.

For instance, you get on the bus and see this terribly attractive gentleman sitting there. You sit down beside him expecting the aroma of a spicy aftershave. Instead, his strong body odor almost makes you gag. Suddenly he isn't as attractive anymore.

Or perhaps it's the other way around. Something that at first holds little appeal - perhaps a person, a flower, a food you've never tried - becomes more appealing when you get a whiff of its delightful scent.

Smell is the most evocative of all the senses - the one most likely to bring back memories, for example. What if that man on the bus was wearing aftershave, but it was the same brand as the woman's ex-husband? Suddenly, all the unpleasant memories are brought back, and the attractive stranger becomes lost behind them. Or the aroma of roses from a hidden garden brings back memories of a lost love.

Pursuing this further - are there circumstances where body odor might be less unpleasant? Husband comes home from a hard day's work, wife savors the honest scent of him (before sending him off to shower prior to dinner.)

For this exercise, in 300 words or less, describe how someone's mind is changed by the sense of smell.

Florence Cardinal's wrap-up
Posted on: Sun, 26 Aug 2001

Hi gang. That's it for this week's exercise. And what a week it has been. I don't have the Stats, but I know that SUBS and CRITS have poured in. Everyone seemed to have something definite to say on the sense of smell and how it affects our lives.

And such an array of scents! Liquor played a part in several, as did perfume and after shave. Flowers were another popular aroma. Many of you recalled with various emotions medical and hospital smells. Only a couple of people used food as a basis for their exercise which rather surprised me. I was afraid this exercise would produce a cornucopia of mealtime aromas.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that you all did a fabulous job. You've proved that the sense of smell is very important in our emotional exploration of life. Well done. A new exercise should be posted later today.


Florence Cardinal's wrap-up
Posted on: September 23, 2002

What a variety of aromas this week. On the bad side - things like rotting fish, rotting bodies and urine. On the good side flowers, fresh mowed grass and, one of my favorite smells - old books.

The majority of the exercises were well done. Everyone followed the guidelines and described the smells well.

And this all goes to show that everything - all we see, feel, hear, and yes, even taste or feel, is fodder for our writer's mind. Use it all, all your experiences. Weave it into the lives of your characters. These are the things that make a story shine.


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