Thursday, July 21, 2016

5 Ways to Write Using the Five Senses—Smell

by Cyle Young @CyleYoung

I don’t know about you, but every time I smell cinnamon rolls in the oven, I am transported back to 1980’s. My thoughts drift to waking up on Sunday morning to the sweet smell of breakfast baking in the kitchen. My stomach growls. My mouth salivates, and I can almost hear my mother rustling the dishes.

What a great memory from my childhood.

Smell has a powerful effect on our memories, and to be a great writer you must harness the power of smell along with your other four senses.

Take at least 60 seconds and stare at this image. Put yourself in this setting. What three odors, scents, aromas, or fragrances do you smell in this picture?

What do you smell?

It’s hard to miss the flowering cherry trees. Their sweet blossoms waft a pleasant aroma into the air. But go deeper. Live the scene. What else can you smell?

An acrid tinge of smog undercuts the thick floral fragrance.

Or maybe a repulsive hint of body order lifts from the professional photographer as he pushes past in an attempt to get a few more photos before the sun ducks behind over the horizon?

Even the prettiest setting can have a dark side, or a dank scent.

The pungent scent of death emits from the motionless canal. The stench is reminiscent of those summer days spent at Beaver Lake fishing the man-made canals in hopes of landing a channel-cat. I never did catch one.

These smells are only a few of the many. Take another sixty-seconds and experience the picture.

What memories come back? And what else do you smell?

Leave your unique description of what you smell” in the comments below. Make sure to take the time to always smell your setting, or storyworld and take care to describe it in an exceptionally engaging way. 


Cyle Young is thankful God blessed him with the uniqueness of being an ADD-riddled…SQUIRREL!...binge writer. Not much unlike the classic video game Frogger, Cyle darts back and forth between various writing genres. He crafts princess children’s stories, how-to advice for parents, epic fantasy tales, and easy readers.


  1. I also noticed cut grass, leaf mold, water, frogs, and more. :o) Great exercise.

  2. I chuckled when I spotted those cherry blossoms because a very different smell comes to my mind. My hubby was pastor at a church in Southern Maryland. He and his cohort, associate pastor, would drive the little old ladies up to see those cherry blossoms when they were at their height. Thus, I had the distinctive burn of moth ball-ridden clothes as they have been pulled from their winter hiding for just this occasion. I have to add one of my favorite quotes from one of those trips. Hubby had driven around to find just the perfect place to park so the little ladies could get out and experience those blossoms up close. As he started to get out, one lady from the back said, "What are you doing? I'm 85 years old and I don't walk for anybody. I'm ready for lunch!" Gotta love ministry!

  3. I love this thanks for posting these exercises!