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Even for people who can smell, the sense is rarely precise enough to describe save by way of analogy. Someone particularly interested in cooking or food in general might train themselves to be able to pick out and recognize the specific elements making up a scent, but for the general population, if you're not simply saying directly what something smells of, ...


8

TL;DR Focus on sight, hearing, and emotions. Don't worry about smell. I have been trained to engage the reader by applying the five senses, or as many of the five as is practical without becoming excessive. I disagree with your training. Good use of the senses can enhance a story, but they are not necessary to tell an enjoyable story. Don't try to cram ...


4

You don't always have to use smell in every scene; if you're doing it to highlight a person, place, or thing then you should do it there only, or you could describe it in other ways without the smell, or it might actually be interesting to just have your main POV character also not have this ability. I don't think I've ever heard a character have this. But ...


3

The dilema you face actually has a term, "Qualia," which is a linguistic inability to describe a sense stimuli. The UR question of "Qualia" is "Describe a color with out using any comparisons to things that have that color". It's so difficult that even some of our words for colors are taken from things that have the color as an attribute (in the English ...


3

Rather than give a fish… Tie it into the culture, make it do double duty Everything in your story should do more than one job. The name you pick doesn’t have to be obvious to a contemporary human in our world. If you tie it into their culture, practices, and beliefs, it becomes more meaningful that you’re putting this plane “on screen” and having a scene ...


2

You've most likely tried this already - but it's always a safe bet to talk to peers for their opinions on certain objects who can smell. In what I've read at least, describing how something smells isn't super important - usually readers look for how things appear, sound, or feel. But smell and taste are super connected so if you can taste things, you could ...


2

Rather than pick a random word, ask yourself questions about your people in the story. What is their religious background and has the object in the sky been integrated into their beliefs? what would be a natural description in their limited language? How would the people in charge see this phenomena - something that helps solidify their power, or a threat?...


1

A couple of answers above have alluded to the nostalgia or emotion factors. Personally, I would recommend you focus on this more than trying to come up with lots of description. A lot of the time - to me at least - smell is inconsequential, unless it’s particularly strong or unpleasant, but every so often, I do find a smell has a very specific association ...


1

Keep it Specific. Here's why: The nose has thousands of specific odor receptors, not just a few general ones like 'sweet'. The receptor sites in the nose respond to molecular shapes and polarization. Two different chemicals almost never smell the same. Often, in chemical papers you see a note like 'the smell is distinctive'. Some have objected that this ...


1

What can I do, beyond just using words like "good, bad, strong," or "sweet," words that carry over into other senses, to give readers an experience like they are there? Some great answers already given, but I just wanted to add a couple tidbits. First, even those who can smell fine often have a hard time describing smells. Smells are much more abstract than ...


1

I once read that if one is writing about the life of a fast food worker, the reader needs to "smell the grease." I'd like to build on the sense of smell being strongly tied to memory. Smell can sometimes be a vital component of an experience. Once, in a scientific study I participated in, I had to sign a waiver warning me that the smell test could trigger ...


1

What about a "buzzbird"? It brings to mind a buzzard which watch from high overhead like the plane, and I would imagine the characters can hear the plane 'buzzing' around. It's also simplistic enough that a less advanced culture would think of it.


1

Maybe you could think of scents as colors to understand them? A strong smell of say, lemon, could represent the color yellow. Vibrant and energetic, sometimes even tickling up your nose like the sun. (I hear half of earth's population can look at bright light to trigger a sneeze - I'm one of them) If there's sugar mixed into it, I'd say the color would be ...


1

Well, this is something that I have a bit of experience in, being the GM of a fantasy RPG, Pathfinder. It's all about player (or reader) and character knowledge. For example, I may give my players an enchanted sword, but I might give it to them like this. "You pry the blade out of the beasts' hands, with the blood of your fallen comrade still fresh on it. ...


1

Maybe the viewpoint character could refer to the minotaur as 'the beast' or 'the monster'? Meanwhile, you could indicate to the readers that it is a minotaur by describing its appearance in such a way that it is fairly obvious. For example, you could say something like: I spun around to see a hulking beast standing behind me. The monster had the head of ...


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