The Garlic Bread Insight

A portion of garlic bread reminded me of an important writing lesson this week.

It must be one of the simplest of starters, yet it had a remarkable impact on both body and mind.

I was feeling hungry, and could smell it being prepared - it must be one of the most unmistakable of scents - and that prompted my stomach into a bubbling rapture.

The impact was so impressive that in the couple of minutes before the bread arrived, out came my trusty notebook and down was scribbled a few lines under the heading REMEMBER - HIT ALL THE SENSES WHEN CREATING A SCENE. 

(I LIKE TO USE CAPITALS when I think I've had an important idea!)

It's something I emphasise when I'm teaching writing. In my view, too much description focuses on what we can see, but that's to risk missing out on some powerful weapons in an author's armoury.

What about the sounds of a place - knives on plates, the clink of glasses, and the feel - the roughness of the old wooden table, the smooth cool of the stone walls etc?

Then there are the smells, as so ably demonstrated by my garlic bread, and the impact they can have on bringing a setting to life.

On the subject of which, a quick visual interlude -

dog and beer.JPG

Refreshments for master and hound, as we're in a pub for this blog.

Smells have another powerful effect, aside from on the stomach, as the garlic bread reminded me (it was such an effective teacher perhaps I should name it Professor G Bread?)

The smell took me back almost thirty years to university meals, when garlic bread was the starter of fashion. Which triggered a whole lot of smiling nostalgia.

Smell is the sense most closely linked to memory, so it's said, and it sure was in this case. Oh, the memories.

And all that in a few seconds, courtesy of some humble garlic bread. What a simple, but instructive insight into the power of using other senses than simple sight to make settings rise from the paper and really live.