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Travel Writing Prompt: The Scent of Travel

April 25 2012 , Written by thediversetraveller Published on #five senses, #show don't tell, #travel, #Travel News, #travel writing, #Writing, #writing excercise, #writing prompt

The travel story that really resonates with the reader is one that takes us on a journey with the author. Often on that journey we are encouraged through the words of the author to see what they saw, much space is given up to descriptions that would make poets jealous. But the focus has been on our sense of sight, often giving short thrift to the other four - sell, touch, hearing and taste.

The writers and book I like are those who involve all five senses creativity in their writing, almost, taking us by the hand and encouraging us to use our imaginations to touch, touch, smell, hear and yes see, what they want us too.  For me good writing uses words to create a vivid picture that we see in our minds, yearn to touch, taste and smell, and through it all we hear the sounds of the place many of us may never reach, except through this medium.  

image from www.sedl.org

Source: http://www.sedl.org/scimath/pasopartners

Feeling is often refereed to as the sixth sense, whether it is intuition or the reaction of the author or a character to the place or situation they find themselves in, suing this sense in writing can leave us wondering wondering how we would feel, if we were in the same situatuion. 

When writer Alsion Rice was asked in an interview for Lonely Planet Travel Writing (How to Guide), "What in your opinion, constitutes 'good travel writing?' As part of her answer, she said, " Something that so cinjures up the spirit of the place I can smell it." In the same book, the author asked the same question of Author Lynne Huges who replied, "Good travel writing should transport the reader to the destination or situation that you're describing. They should be able to hear the sounds, smell the smells, and feel the atmosphere." 

Speaking of smell, this is something writer Paul Rambali, in this extract from his book, It's All True: In the Cities and Jungle of Brazil, focuses on ...

"... I am hoping now to keep wonder and curiosity alive, in the age of armchair and video travel, by recalling the smell, the one thing that you can never write down, film, or bring back, that will always remind you of a place or a person. Because it can never be recorded except in the mind, smell is the most initimate and most mnemonic of the senses, linked to appetite and, through that, sex.

    The smell of Africa and the Caribbean is that of palm oil, used for cooking, a cloying, soapy oder to me. North America smells like the inside of an empty refrigerator, because of the air conditioning, or the upholstery of a new car. The smell of Brazil is composed of sugar molecules - the hot, sweet smell of baking sugar that wafts from the padarias, the bakeries, and coffee shops; and the smells of Gasohol, the potent mix of sugar-derived alcohol and gasoline that powers many of the cars. 

...Instead of the usual smell of big city pollution, there is the smell of burnt sugar in the air, as though Rio was not merely decadent and unseruious, but secretly made of candy floss."

Excercise:

SmellflowerThink of a place or situation from the past and describe it in no more than 300 words, using as many of the five senses as you can. Then read your peiece aloud and see how using all the senses in your description brings the place to life.

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