Avoid a Tasteless Scene: Introducing Tastes into Stories

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Dear Faithful Readers,
 
After 331 weekly blog posts, I am changing to monthly posts
to spend more time writing. I will post the third
Thursday of each month, starting with this post. Thank you.
 
Zoe

Writers know how important it is that their characters use their five senses in stories. Last week, I spoke about scents. Today we’ll focus on tastes.

What Characters Might Taste Besides Food

Spice up your scenes with tastes other than foods. Here are some examples.

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  • Blood
  • Dirt
  • Chewing tobacco
  • Medicines
  • Metal: coins, jewelry, weapon
  • Sweat
  • Sprays: hair, chemical, paint
  • Toiletries: mouthwash, toothpaste, soap
  • Water: lake, river, pool

Taste or Flavor Categories

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Here are some flavor categories and specific taste descriptors. You may want to look up the descriptors in a dictionary before using them.

  • Bitter/Tart – sour, acrid, acidic, vinegary, acerbic, tangy, acetous
  • Fruity – any fruit flavor, citric, lemony, nectarous
  • Herbal/bulbs – garlicy, oniony, thyme, cilantro 
  • Rancid – gamy, malodorous, stale, rotten, fishy
  • Spicy – cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger 
  • Spicy-hot – peppery, zesty, fiery
  • Salty – saline, brackish, briny
  • Sharp – piquant, pungent
  • Smoky – burnt, charcoal, charred
  • Sweet – dulcet, honeyed, sugary, syrupy, saccharine

General Descriptors for Tastes

image by ulleo

Here are examples of general taste describers.

  • Balsamic
  • Bland
  • Delectable
  • Flavorful
  • Full-bodied
  • Harsh
  • Heavenly
  • Juicy
  • Luscious
  • Mellow
  • Palatable
  • Rich
  • Savory
  • Scrumptious
  • Strong
  • Succulent
  • Tasteless
  • Tasty
  • Unsweetened
  • Weak

Can you add to any tastes or flavors to the above lists? 

Buy Link

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Zoe McCarthy’s book, Tailor Your Fiction Manuscript in 30 Days, is a fresh and innovative refocusing of your novel or novella. Through a few simple—and fun—steps, Zoe helps writers take their not-ready-for-publication and/or rejected manuscripts to a spit-polish finish. Writing is hard work, yes, but it doesn’t have to be difficult. —Eva Marie Everson, best-selling and multiple award-winning author, conference director, president of Word Weavers International, Inc.

If you want to increase your chance of hearing yes instead of sorry or not a fit for our list at this time, this book is for you. If you want to develop stronger story plots with characters that are hard to put down, this book is for you. Through McCarthy’s checklists and helpful exercises and corresponding examples, you will learn how to raise the tension, hone your voice, and polish your manuscript. I need this book for my clients and the many conferees I meet at writer’s conferences around the country. Thank you, Zoe. A huge, #thumbsup, for Tailor Your Fiction Manuscript in 30 Days.  —Diana L. Flegal, literary agent, and freelance editor

Tailor Your Fiction Manuscript is a self-editing encyclopedia! Each chapter sets up the targeted technique, examples show what to look for in your manuscript, then proven actions are provided to take your writing to the next level. Whether you are a seasoned writer or a newbie, you need this book! —Sally Shupe, freelance editor, aspiring author

McCarthy crafted an amazing self-help book that will strengthen any writer, whether new or seasoned, with guidance and self-evaluation tools. —Erin Unger, author of Practicing Murder, releasing in 2019

Need to rework your book? Zoe M. McCarthy’s step-by-step reference guide leads you through the process, helping you fight feeling overwhelmed and wrangle your manuscript and into publishable shape in 30 days. Tailor Your Manuscript delivers a clear and comprehensive action plan. —Elizabeth Spann Craig, Twitteriffic owner, bestselling author of the Myrtle Clover Mysteries, the Southern Quilting Mysteries, and the Memphis Barbeque Mysteries http://elizabethspanncraig.com/blog/



Scents and Scents’ Abilities: Introducing Smells into Stories

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Tailor Your Fiction Manuscript in 30 Days is designed to shape a not-yet submitted, rejected, or self-published manuscript with low ratings into a book that shines. The method can also be a guiding resource for writers starting a manuscript. See details below.

Writers know how important it is that their characters use their five senses in stories. Today we’ll focus on scents and ways to use them.

Associate Certain Scents with Certain Abilities

Here are common associations between scents and a person’s well-being. In your stories, perhaps you could show your character reacting to scents in these ways.

image by Couleur
  • Fruit scents assist in calming anxiety. Lemon to increase clarity and apple for migraines. As Emily made lemonade from freshly squeezed lemons, Arthur drew in the citrus scent. His headache eased and a new idea struck him for the machine he’d invented.
  • Lavender’s fragrance is associated with easing emotional stress and insomnia. A lavender scent drifted through Brad’s open window. He ceased his tossing and his eyelids drooped. Oh, for blessed sleep …
  • Cinnamon is known for stimulating the brain, fighting mental fatigue, and increasing memory and attention span. Carly sifted cinnamon spice over each of ten pots containing simmering apples. Her nose filled with the cinnamon scent. As she stirred the cinnamon into the apple mixture, she recalled the complicated directions for Mother’s quilt pattern.
  • Peppermint is thought to stimulate the mind and increase concentration. Professor Eichmann passed peppermint candies to the students at the table. As the students sucked the candies, peppermint scent permeated the air, and the brainstorming session succeeded in solving the professor’s challenge. 
  • Jasmine is associated with boosting confidence and easing depression. Courtney persuaded Mother to sit in the garden near the Jasmine shrubs. “Mother, let’s breath in the lovely scents of the garden.” Mother obeyed. “Dearest, I love the scent of Jasmine. This is the most hopeful I’ve felt in days.”.

Fragrance Families

Spice up your stories with scents from different fragrance families:

  • Floral – flowers and bouquets
  • Chemical – ammonia and glass cleaners
  • Woody – pine and sandalwood
  • Fruity – citrus and apples
  • Exotic – ambergris and vanilla
  • Sweet – chocolate and caramel
  • Clean – soap and shampoo
  • Nutty – peanut butter and almond
  • Spices – nutmeg and cinnamon
  • Minty – peppermint and wintergreen
  • Strong – burning rubber and garlic breath
  • Decayed – roadkill and sour milk

Synonyms for Smells

image by weinstock
  • Odor
  • Scent
  • Fragrance
  • Smell
  • Aroma
  • Perfume
  • Bouquet
  • Stink
  • Stench
  • Whiff

How Scents Arrive

  • Cooking, baking, searing, frying, roasting
  • Burning, lighting up, bug zapping, heat radiation
  • Rotting, fermenting, souring
  • Digging, fertilizing, spraying
  • Sweating, breathing, festering
  • Bathing, grooming, powdering
image by Free-Photos

Verbs to Use with Smells

  • Wafted
  • Intruded
  • Floated
  • Hinted
  • Gave off
  • Blew
  • Hovered
  • Hung
  • Lifted
  • Drifted

Can you add to any of the above lists?


Buy Link

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is TYFMI30D-Print-5.75x8.89.jpeg

Zoe McCarthy’s book, Tailor Your Fiction Manuscript in 30 Days, is a fresh and innovative refocusing of your novel or novella. Through a few simple—and fun—steps, Zoe helps writers take their not-ready-for-publication and/or rejected manuscripts to a spit-polish finish. Writing is hard work, yes, but it doesn’t have to be difficult. —Eva Marie Everson, best-selling and multiple award-winning author, conference director, president of Word Weavers International, Inc.

If you want to increase your chance of hearing yes instead of sorry or not a fit for our list at this time, this book is for you. If you want to develop stronger story plots with characters that are hard to put down, this book is for you. Through McCarthy’s checklists and helpful exercises and corresponding examples, you will learn how to raise the tension, hone your voice, and polish your manuscript. I need this book for my clients and the many conferees I meet at writer’s conferences around the country. Thank you, Zoe. A huge, #thumbsup, for Tailor Your Fiction Manuscript in 30 Days.  —Diana L. Flegal, literary agent, and freelance editor

Tailor Your Fiction Manuscript is a self-editing encyclopedia! Each chapter sets up the targeted technique, examples show what to look for in your manuscript, then proven actions are provided to take your writing to the next level. Whether you are a seasoned writer or a newbie, you need this book! —Sally Shupe, freelance editor, aspiring author

McCarthy crafted an amazing self-help book that will strengthen any writer, whether new or seasoned, with guidance and self-evaluation tools. —Erin Unger, author of Practicing Murder, releasing in 2019

Need to rework your book? Zoe M. McCarthy’s step-by-step reference guide leads you through the process, helping you fight feeling overwhelmed and wrangle your manuscript and into publishable shape in 30 days. Tailor Your Manuscript delivers a clear and comprehensive action plan. —Elizabeth Spann Craig, Twitteriffic owner, bestselling author of the Myrtle Clover Mysteries, the Southern Quilting Mysteries, and the Memphis Barbeque Mysteries http://elizabethspanncraig.com/blog/


10-Item Manuscript Checklist When You’re Under a Deadline

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Tailor Your Fiction Manuscript in 30 Days is designed to shape a not-yet submitted, rejected, or self-published manuscript with low ratings into a book that shines. The method can also be a guiding resource for writers starting a manuscript. See details below.



Ideally, authors would like use a comprehensive checklist to prepare their manuscripts before submitting them to an freelance editor or a publisher. But what if you’re on a fast-approaching deadline? Here are ten areas to review in each scene before letting your manuscript go.

1.  Search for awkward sentences. For example, separate into multiple sentences, rewrite passive passages, and reduce wordiness for sentences such as this one: Tom was hurt by a large, gray elephant when the bull flipped him into the air as poachers from the east stampeded the herd by driving their large, gray land rovers that had tusks tied to their hoods with rope behind the herd.

2. Take your movie camera and capture what you see and hear during the scene. Determine whether you used enough of what you captured so that the character and reader will experience the setting.

image by ThomasWolter

3.  Check that your character has used, hopefully, all five senses in the scene—what he sees, tastes, touches, smells, and hears.

4. Look for that zinger that spices up your dialogue.

  • Clever remark skillfully delivered
  • Shocking or unexpected observation
  • Bold truth
  • Dry or humorous comment
image by geralt

5. Re-read the opening to make sure you’ve dropped the reader into the action and grounded the reader in the scene’s mood and the who, when, and where.

6.  Review the ending to ensure you’ve left the reader anxious to know what’s going to happen next.

7.  Check paragraphs’ ending words. Have you backloaded paragraphs with a strong word that gives the gist of the paragraph instead of a vague word, such as him, it, or was?

8. Research for accuracy a place, item, job, or personality you’ve introduce into the scene.

9. Enter the scene into a program like ProWritingAid to find style, grammar, overuse, and sticky-sentence problems. 

10. Have your word processing reader read your scene to you to catch typos, errors, and weird-sounding sentences.

What’s on your quick checklist to do before you send off your manuscript? 

Buy Link

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is TYFMI30D-Print-5.75x8.89.jpeg

Zoe McCarthy’s book, Tailor Your Fiction Manuscript in 30 Days, is a fresh and innovative refocusing of your novel or novella. Through a few simple—and fun—steps, Zoe helps writers take their not-ready-for-publication and/or rejected manuscripts to a spit-polish finish. Writing is hard work, yes, but it doesn’t have to be difficult. —Eva Marie Everson, best-selling and multiple award-winning author, conference director, president of Word Weavers International, Inc.

If you want to increase your chance of hearing yes instead of sorry or not a fit for our list at this time, this book is for you. If you want to develop stronger story plots with characters that are hard to put down, this book is for you. Through McCarthy’s checklists and helpful exercises and corresponding examples, you will learn how to raise the tension, hone your voice, and polish your manuscript. I need this book for my clients and the many conferees I meet at writer’s conferences around the country. Thank you, Zoe. A huge, #thumbsup, for Tailor Your Fiction Manuscript in 30 Days.  —Diana L. Flegal, literary agent, and freelance editor

Tailor Your Fiction Manuscript is a self-editing encyclopedia! Each chapter sets up the targeted technique, examples show what to look for in your manuscript, then proven actions are provided to take your writing to the next level. Whether you are a seasoned writer or a newbie, you need this book! —Sally Shupe, freelance editor, aspiring author

McCarthy crafted an amazing self-help book that will strengthen any writer, whether new or seasoned, with guidance and self-evaluation tools. —Erin Unger, author of Practicing Murder, releasing in 2019

Need to rework your book? Zoe M. McCarthy’s step-by-step reference guide leads you through the process, helping you fight feeling overwhelmed and wrangle your manuscript and into publishable shape in 30 days. Tailor Your Manuscript delivers a clear and comprehensive action plan. —Elizabeth Spann Craig, Twitteriffic owner, bestselling author of the Myrtle Clover Mysteries, the Southern Quilting Mysteries, and the Memphis Barbeque Mysteries http://elizabethspanncraig.com/blog/