Monday, February 10, 2014

What Grandma's Roses Can Teach Us About Writing


What is it about pink roses, more than any other color, that brings to mind the sweet scent we associate with roses? At least that's how it works for me.
Photo of Roses by Carol Newman
(Yes, a gift from Gentleman Friend on some past occasion)
On my last editing pass before calling a piece of writing finished, I read through one more time looking for a place where I might engage the sense of smell. As you probably remember, this is the sense that most quickly draws in a reader.

When I was a new writer, I didn't know that real writers go back over and over a work editing it. I thought that was somehow cheating; I thought the work should spring forth in its ultimate perfection. Thank goodness I learned that just the opposite is true. Real writers edit, shape, smooth and manipulate their piece of writing until it is as flawless as a pink rose. And a part of that editing means including the sense of smell.


Writing about smell, scent or aroma is not easy at first, but give it a try. It doesn't have to be something pretty, like a pink rose. It could be at the other end of the spectrum. A couple of weeks ago, I heard someone describing an unwashed man who had stood too close to him on the London "tube." Mystery writers often describe crime scenes in terms of smell. They "show" the smell by something like having a seasoned cop run to the curb retching. In a happier scene, a character might close her eyes and smile at the memory of Mom's apple pie.
Write about a character, friend, or family member and include the sense of smell. For example, my grandmother, whom everyone called Mom, always smelled like those pink roses in the picture. To me, that scent is my grandmother. What aroma do you associate with a person, place, or event? Write a couple of sentences. (Or scentences. -groan - sorry.)


February -- the month of chocolate! Today's recipe for Raspberry Brownies comes from

Photo by: Mark Thomas
(Photo courtesy of Parade Magazine's Dash Recipes)

RaspberrySwirl Brownie Bites

1 (19.9-oz) box Duncan Hines Chewy Fudge Brownie Mix
1 (3.13 oz) package chocolate pudding mix
3 eggs
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup raspberry jam
1/2 pint fresh raspberries (optional - dead of winter - maybe you can get raspberries, maybe not)

1. Preheat oven - 350 degrees
2. Coat a 9x13 baking pan with cooking spray
3. In a large bowl, combine brownie mix, pudding mix, eggs, water, and oil. Beat well. Transfer to baking pan. Drop jam 1 spoonful at a time onto batter. Swirl using a table knife.
4. Bake for 28 minutes or until done. Cool in pan. Cut into 24 brownies. Top with raspberries.

For more writing tips, go to You can even find a little workbook there that will help you in writing your memoir.

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