I Smell a Good Story

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"In literature, imagery refers to words that trigger your imagination to recall and recombine images- memories  or mental pictures of sights, sounds, tastes, smells, sensatiosn of touch, and motions. The process is active and even vigorous, for when words or descriptions produce images, you are using your personal experiences with life and language to help you understand the works you are reading" (Roberts, 129).

I was once told that the most powerful tool in writing (whether ficiton, non-fiction, etc.) is the use of your reader's five senses. As a sophomore in high school, I once had to write a descriptive paper using as many of the five senses as possible. This daunting task proved to create some of my best writing. Now, I can't help but use at least one of the five senses in each of my writings. This approach helps make that writer-reader connection that is so crucial when a writer creates a work.

This is why I found Roberts Chapter 8 extremely helpful. It offers technical terms for the various types of imagery: visual, auditory (sounds), olfactory (smells), tactile (touch/ texture), gustatory (taste) and kinesthetic. I did not know some of these terms, and I always love to learn something new. Roberts advises us to examine "what type or types of images prevail in the work" (132), which is made easier now that we know the correct terms for the images.

Something I found particularly interesting is that "tactile images are not uncommon in love poetry, where references to touch and feeling are natural" (132). I suppose I've always known this, but Roberts put into words something I did not know how to say. Now that I think about it, Masefield's "Cargoes 1902" makes use of a lot of these images, particularly taste and touch ("sweet white wine (line 5)" and "salt-caked smoke-stack (line 11).") From now on, I will be more conscious of the type of imagery poets use, and perhaps this will make some of the poems we read more enjoyable.  


Aja Hannah said:

Your title made me think about something. Normally, I use a lot of visual images in my stories and, when I realize this, I try to incorporate other senses, but the other sense is always tactile. I don't think I've ever really tried smell.

I would like to try this and, hopefully, not end with something cliche like "she smelled like fresh dew" or "as sweet as a rose".

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Aja Hannah on I Smell a Good Story: Your title made me think about