Whenever I feel as if my writing lacks zip, or depth, or juiciness, I turn to smell. Here’s a great exercise. Make a list of twelve (or ten, or twenty – I’m not dogmatic) things that have strong smells. Here is one of my lists: garlic, lilacs, gasoline, tomato leaves, sweaty feet, lemons, blood, coffee, coconut, paint, baby pee, wet dog. Now pick one or two or three of these smells and write about them by answering any or all of these questions: What other things smell like this smell? How does this smell make you feel – sad, exhilarated, nostalgic, angry? Which famous comedian do you think would smell of this? What color is this smell? How big is this smell? Is this smell round, or square, or triangular, or blob-like? How old is this smell? Does this smell hurt? What song title makes you think of this smell? When was the first time you smelled this smell? Where does this smell live – the ocean, the desert, the mountains, Alpha Centauri?
Now go back to writing whatever you were writing before. Chances are that the juice, zip, and depth will be there, waiting for you.
I sometimes share writing tips that have worked for me or my clients/students. Do you have a writing tip you’d like to share? If so, leave a comment here. You might win something! At the end of each month I’ll gather up the “Writing Tip” comments from the month and pick one at random from a drawing, and send the winner of the drawing one of my e-books: your choice of How to WOW Your Readers or You Can Be An Author, Even If You’re Not a Writer.
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