You smell. So do I. That’s why smells are so important in mystery writing. You can easily include some pretty smelly stuff in a scary story.
Who hasn’t read of the coppery smell of blood? The smell of a decaying body, be it human or animal? What about decaying vegetation? Spooky, unused houses with that closed up smell? Damp basements?
Then there are the nervous characters who tend to perspire in all kinds of places like the forehead, lips, under their arms, on the back. Some of that has to smell.
Even my dog, Rascal, after I’d taken her to obedience school where she hadn’t been in a few months, had more of a dog smell on her when we were driving home in the van. She loves people and other dogs, yet she was nervous about doing the right thing and trying to please everyone, hence the smell.
Then we come to the arsenal of colognes and perfumes. You can have a good time describing an unlikeable character by giving that person an overpowering cologne or perfume, or unbathed body odor.
Or, you can describe the pleasant scent of a character you want your reader to like. What about food aromas? What does that say about a character? Who would you expect to inhabit a house with a stinky fish or cabbage smell? I picture a rugged, sloppy guy who must be the bad guy. Or, if you’re describing a homey smell, with bread, cookies or cake in the oven, a picture comes to my mind of a giving mother or wife. Sure, these are stereotypes, but they can be very effective when offering description.
You can also twist such expected stereotypes around and offer contrast, such as by having a mean, nasty guy bake cookies. That can be even more frightening since it's unexpected.
So, remember to include the sense of smell in your manuscript. It's a great way to round out a story for your reader.
Can you think of other examples? Which ones have you used? I invite you to comment.