I’m so guilty of this one. Maybe you are, too. You go to great pains to get your characters down. You know that your hero “has a little scar on his chin that makes him even sexier” (oops, sorry, did you use that one?). You’ve written about the feel of his calloused hands on her bare back. And the romance blossoms, but it does so in a world where humans have mysteriously lost the sense of smell. The editor/agent/slush reader who gets your manuscript isn’t going to want you to give them a blow by blow on perfume, sweat that reeks of the previous night’s meal, etc. But if you want to evoke a feeling quickly, in a shorthand way, aromas can perform miraculously.
Think of the coming holidays. You want shorthand for “home” or “holidays.” The list is just about endless. And it’s not all about food. Most of us (at least this side of the Mississippi) know what is meant when someone says “I smell snow in the air.” Or the smell of baseboard heat coming on for the first time in the season. Moth balls. Musty Christmas decorations. Recently snuffed candles. Gasoline fumes from the snow blower.
Of course, that’s easy in a contemporary work, right? What about your fantasy? Perhaps you’ve built a world without smell? Go back and check through your manuscript. You might find spots where a good dose of shorthand smell sense can bring your reader further into your character’s world. Good luck!
PS–I don’t think Ryan Hok smells, I just like this photo!