Using scent to tell a story–scent reviews and inspired prompts for fiction and non-fiction writers.
What’s This? I use perfume oil to inspire character, setting, mood, and so on as I write. I used to post reviews and fiction/non-fiction writing prompts inspired by scent under a blog called The Write Scent, and I figured–since it’s really a part of my process as a writer–I should fold that into my blog here. You don’t need to own (or buy) these oils to use these prompts, but I do my best to review/generate prompts for oils that are current available (Click the scent names!), in case you ARE scent-inspired like me. Without further ado, today’s review and prompts:
Philopannyx, Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab
Scent Description: Sweet ink-black musk and sugared violets with lavender, deep purple tea roses, champaca absolute, red benzoin, 13-year aged patchouli, and myrrh.
Scent Review: First, a disclaimer. I bought this oil because I have a scent association between violet candies and a certain formative, sensual period of my life. So, to me, right away I pick up the sugared violets and think “sexy.” The scent is purple to my mind, and just a bit dusty—not in a way that reads as old things so much as almost chalky. I imagine that’s the myrrh chiming in.
That said, there’s an almost-juicy incense-y quality to the violet candy smell, too, which keeps this scent from being childish. I’m getting the benzoin and patchouli most as it dries, and it feels rich. I get that dusty and juicy don’t seem to go together… But if you can imagine a boiling potion as the bottom of the scent (the musk, the champaca, the patchouli, the myrrh), and then the smoke-steam of violet candy floating above (with the rose working here, too, and the lavender), you might be able to hold both ideas in your head the way I’m getting them both in my nose.
Non-fiction: Think about a taste, or a smell, that brings up a memory for you—or, if not a single memory, a taste or smell that reminds you of a certain period in your life. Does the taste or smell fit the mood of that time in your life, or is it sort of jarring? Either way, write about that time in your life, get the taste or smell on the page as part of that time, and explore the connection/relationship between the sense and the events.
Fiction: Create a magic potion. Decide what it does. Come up with a recipe. What’s in it? How is it made? What does it look like, smell like, taste like? How do you know when it’s done? Write a story in which someone makes, or takes, this potion.