As a new writer, we almost always fall victim to the situation where we ‘tell’ too much and ‘show’ too less; our writing is too narrative but far less depictive.
‘Show, don’t tell’ is one of the most common (sometimes, over-emphasized) rules in fiction writing. And yet, it is neglected.
Check this info-graphic if you’re struggling to understand the difference between showing and telling
If you’re one of them, bookmark this article that has over 300+ Show Don’t Tell Examples. These sentences are completely at your disposal. You can use them in your writing as they are. (Just put us in attributions, it’ll make us happy).
Before I begin, understand that there are 7 different types of imagery in literature:
This article focuses on Olfactory imagery.
Show Don’t Tell Examples for Olfactory Imagery:
How, as a writer, will you make the reader smell what your character can smell? Which words or imagery can you use to familiarize the reader with the scent in the scene, the place? Olfactory Imagery is used for this purpose. I am going to provide you with a few examples which you can gladly use as they are (I’ll try to be as creative as I can be.)
- The smell of burnt coal brought back the memories of him sneaking in her room after midnight, and fear crept up her spine making the hairs on her neck stand.
- The honeysuckle fragrant lawn lured the insects and flies; I could hear the crickets calling and singing their eerie song of the night.
- The scent of wet soil reached my nostrils and my eyes closed on their own accord
- He sprayed the lavender air-freshener to deaden the smell of tobacco.
- Her hair smelt of the cigarette she stubbed outside before entering the house.
- His room stank of rotten eggs which made Shaina retch, and she covered her mouth with her hand.
- The hall reeked of wet paint and anti-termite solution; Kiara walked back to her cabin scrunching her nose.
- As she entered the room, Jessica smelled caramel popcorn in the making and watched her sister, with a bandana on her head, work her hands with oil paints.
- The tracker dog sniffed the table and recoiled in the stench of bleach and ammonia.
- Violet put on her cherry blossom perfume and walked out of the door.
I am going to provide you with a few adjectives and nouns which can be used for pleasant and unpleasant smells, scents, stenches, fragrances:
Pleasant Nouns for Smells:
- Sun-dried tomatoes
- Air-dried blankets
- Baby powder
- Apple Cider
- Sea Breeze
- Maple Syrup
- Meadows/ Grass/ Flowers- Rose, Lilacs, Jasmine, Lavender, Honeysuckle/ Tuberose/ Hibiscus
- Wet soil
- Freshly baked bread
- Lemon/ Lime
- Pizza Place
- Melted Cheese
- Vanilla/ Butterscotch
Unpleasant Nouns for Smell:
- Burnt Toast
- Burnt tire
- Bad breath
- Dog and Dog breath
- Locker Room
- Laundry Room
- Rotten Eggs
- Fungus/ Moss/ Moulded Bread
- Onions and Garlic
- Toilet Cleaner
- Bleach and Ammonia
- Meat- Pork/ Beef/ Chicken (uncooked)
- Sewage/ Pot Holes
- Fresh/ Wet Paint
- Litter/ Poop of any animal
- Cigars/ Cigarette/ Nicotine
- Burnt Plastic
- Burnt Food
- Burnt Rubber
- Hospital/ Morgue
- Unwashed Socks
- Unclean Underwear
- Greasy Cloth
Unpleasant Adjectives for Smells:
- Rotting/ Rotten
- Dank/ Damp
Pleasant Adjectives for Smells:
Before you leave, check out these 80+ examples on Gustatory imagery to empower your ‘Show don’t tell game.’
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