Smelly Writing Prompts!

Do you have a favorite scent?

For me it is privet blossoms!

They have the same intoxicating effect on me as on the small Cabbage-white butterflies that flock to drink their nectar in late summer.

Like children running frantically into the streets at the faintest sound of music pouring from the megaphone of an ice cream truck anywhere withing a 10 block radius. We just can’t resist the siren song of sweet treats.

At the first honeyed scent of privets in bloom, I set off to locate the mother ship and bury my nose in its inevitable, abundance of blossoms.

Inhaling so deeply that I might taste the candied nectar with my very soul.

It is by far my most favorite scent!

New born babies (they totally smell like heaven and cheese cake) do run a very close second. A photo finish for 1st really.

It’s just that those precious little bundles have the ability to annihilate their euphoric aroma with one far less pleasant at the drop of an unexpected hat.

“POOF!” and its a tiny bundle of stink bomb! A fresh whiff of backed up mainline at your service!

How does such a big, bad smell come from something so tiny? Something so fresh from heaven?

It’s clearly biological warfare. Maybe a highly sophisticated cloaking device? Against would be predators and potential threats real or perceived.

I suppose they DO have the highest security clearance and a license to conceal carry a loaded weapon.

You know, that stinky bit has me ditching diaper duty back over to mama, because you know, you absolutely can do that while you run for breathable air.

Sometimes, they even manage to eject clingy stink-a-roo like Spider-Man ejects webs!

Handler BEWARE! The stink will NOT relent!

That’s it. You are marked as a poop-poo, direct hit for the foreseeable future. Baby has sunk your battleship.

No amount or type of cleaner can free you from its’ stench laden wrath. You must learn to bend up wind from the bull’s eye area, while still appearing calm and relaxed.

Being a contortionist (or black belt equivalent in yoga) does come in handy in just such a situation.

Vic’s vapor rub liberally piped into each nostril does work in a pinch.

(Feel free to make nostril rosettes at tail end of your nose frosting. If you’re feeling a little crafty, decorative even.)

Privets never do that quick change magic act!

Perfection! (Chef’s kiss)

Today’s prompt, (bet you started to think I’d never get to it) pick a favorite smell and how you respond when you smell its aroma.

Then contrast it with a least favorite smell!
Really dig in if you can.

Please share a bit of what you wrote with the group if you will?

If you’re in need of more fresh ideas for writing about the sensation of smell, check out this post from the staff writers at

Please do feel free the change this prompt in anyway that inspires you.

There’s always more than one, creative style, right answer.


Philadelphus Belle Etoile is my favourite garden fragrance. The blossoms are beautiful, too. Image: Beechwood Nurseries


Ooohhh, I’m going to have to sniff this, too.

Thanks for the smells-good tip!

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I haven’t been able to smell since I was 12, but from the scents I remember, there are two I love.

  1. New DVDs. Sometimes I’ll open a DVD case, stuff my nose in it and catch a hint of the smell I remember. It reminds me of the story that first captured me almost 22 years ago and continues to be a big part of my life and who I am.

  2. Bus diesel fumes. It always reminds me of going to the summer camp I loved as a child and teenager. Once in a while, I can still smell it.


Isn’t it amazing though of all the scents we have ever smelled, how some just stand out like that?


Peeeyouuuu! Privet? Sheesh! I hate it! In fact, who does like it except you, DeAnna!!! However I do love Queen of the Night and my daughter can’t stand it.

Best garden scent? Gardenia! I’ve just bought a plant with one little blossom coming out. Now that small white bloom with its gorgeous scent I am looking forward to with great enthusiasm.

But I do agree that scents are important in setting a mood when writing. But this little discussion does illustrate how we must be careful which scents are odorous smells or delightful perfumes!

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So very true! Scent is so personal a preference.

Perhaps I should have lead with this…

For me there can be Only One privet. JAPANESE Privet!
(It is very uncommon in northern California. I know of only 3 privately owned locations for it)

Japanese Privet smells of honey and orange blossoms. (They even share commonalities with orange blossom in their scent’s genetic make up).

I forget that there are about 44 other varieties of trees and shrubs known as privet, and atleast one of those most commonly used for hedges,and I dont know why, cause it smells just like cat pee! (Wretching sounds ensue)

My apologies for invoking such a horrible smell to mind.

Let my not being specific in a very wide area of individual experience (with something that shares a name with 44 other varietals) be a lesson to every one!

A lesson in what the reader understands about what the author wrote.

Like loving the smell of fish.

Is that days end at the wharf with the stinking, gutted bits and pieces left rotting in the hot sun could knock you down, smell of fish?

Perhaps its freshly steamed halibut with herbs in melted butter? A favorite meal to match a favorite occasion where it was served?

Or was it the small bed side fresh water aquarium that served as your night light in your bedroom with the goldfish you won at the fair?

The sounds and scent of the aerated water becoming synonymous with the peaceful sleep of a lovely childhood?

There is no substitute for specific, the reader may not share a similar frame of reference!

Im the living example of how, badly one’s images can be received.

Thank you @tannislaidlaw for pointing that out to me. I will tuck it in my tool box for always.

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I was actually thinking about this thread earlier today and realized that I did a fanfic piece a while ago that relied on making the reader feel as uncomfortable as the MC. Since I can’t smell, I had to lean more heavily on descriptions and the anticipation of disgust rather than outright smells in a number of places.

This is one of those spots:

Warning: This is not for feather-weight stomachs

Though long after midnight, lights illuminated most of the deserted street. David crouched inside the block’s half-full compost container. A pile of rotted vegetables slid dangerously close. Why’d they have to empty the non-organic bin tonight? He held his breath as the remains of a small animal slicked his boot. This isn’t the kind of observation post I had in mind. He shifted as a tiny device planted in his shoe came loose and pinched his foot. No room to fix it now.

His earpiece buzzed. “Found them. Three streets away,” said Masterson. “They’re hidden behind a stretch of simulated wall. Every time someone enters, I see a guard posted three or four feet inside.”

“They’re not using amulets to get in?” David rubbed a handful of spoiled fruit on his pants but gagged when he started to soil his shirt. He couldn’t get a good breath without the bin’s stink clogging his nose.

“No. That would take too long, and it might expose them. Their scouts are out of sight,” Masterson said. “Are you ready?”

Footsteps scattered outside.

“No. Someone’s in the street. Stand by.”

A tower of muck and slime near the back of the bin toppled, covering his back in sticky wet. Some gunk slipped under his collar. Heat stretched his throat. Don’t throw up. Don’t do it. He concentrated on his objective: get inside Zekkar’s operations post, observe as much as possible, and get out.

Another rotted stack hugged his leg and oozed into his boots.


What I really love about the way you did this, is that the reader gets to fill in the scent and what exactly is all in the bin.

We all have a stinky bin in our history somewhere that we want to gag just recalling the stench, and your style allows for that reader personalization so beautifully!

Alfred Hitchcock did this with films.
He has stated in interviews when asked how he made images scary for the viewer.

Hitchcock related that he simply insinuated to the audience what was to come and then left room for them to fill in with their own imagination.

In that way, he didn’t need a graphic high budget scene either.

Such as showing a knife, an inevitable fall, a large shadow on the wall, or the sound of screaming, then allow for the person’s mind to tailor make what terrified that specific individual.

Hitchcock noted each audience member would be far more horrified from their own fears than if he would have been specific.

You’ve done this here with suggestions, Hitchcock would definitely approve!