Goshen News, Goshen, IN

TGN Bloggers

March 28, 2014

Stinking in the name of research

I’m sitting in the Concord Mall, reeking of men’s cologne.

No, I didn’t get ambush-spritzed by salespeople.

This was my own doing.

I decided to do a little research for a book character. Right now he’s named Jed and he needs to smell, uh, yummy. So what does that smell like?

Not versed in men’s cologne, I decided to find out for myself. My husband wouldn’t let me publicly sniff him in a mall while I sprayed cologne on him. I suppose that would be all sorts of weird, wouldn’t it? Fun but weird.

Instead, I used ribbons and cards.

I had friends and readers submit online their list of favorite colognes. Here they are: Dolce and Gabbana Light Blue, Acqua di Gio by Giorgio Armani, Pi by Givenchy, Paul Sebastian, Chanel Bleu, CK One by Calvin Klein, Chrome by Azzaro, Obsession and Drakkar Noir.

Now you know why I was at the mall. I had to stop in at Carson’s and see if they would let me go on a free smelling spree.

The super-accommodating sales lady did just that. She hunted up each of the colognes I requested, gave me a load of spritz cards and ribbons and left me alone. I sprayed and sniffed my way through each entry.

What I was looking for was a scent that would be a natural extension of Jed — nothing overpowering. I wanted subtle and masculine. The scent needed to make the ladies approach Jed and inhale deeper, not step back.

Light Blue


Acqua di Gio

The top two were Dolce and Gabbana Light Blue and Acqua di Gio by Giorgio Armani. Light Blue won because of its subtle citrus scent. So now Jed’s a Light Blue man.

Who would think that something as simple as scent would matter to a book character matters? But it does. When building a character, authors don’t want two dimensional. Readers want characters to come to life, to feel like they can reach out and touch them — or maybe even slap them.

To do that, senses need to be used.

Physical characteristics are important. Jed’s muscles rippled as his long legs carried him across the beach. His sand-colored hair stood straight up in the wind. His gray eyes had a lifeless look about them.

But move beyond describing the outside appearance.

How does Jed’s face feel when his brother punches him? Hard? Soft? Rough? Flaccid? Did his jowls wobble? Or did his brother’s fist get a rash from Jed’s wiry beard stubble?

This might be a little gross, but what does the character taste like? Jed could taste the sorrow on her lips. Or maybe he tasted the saltiness of her tears. Maybe he tasted her cherry chapstick on his lips. You get the picture — that’s the point.

Although you’re reading, sound plays an important part in character development. After all, the characters have a voice in your head.

Would Jed sound manly with a deep voice or a high voice? Higher tones are usually reserved for young, insecure or the whiny, sniveling type. I want Jed to be manly, so he’s going to channel Johnny Cash. Does he have a speech impediment? Does he stammer around cute girls? Or maybe Jed is the silent type, speaking only when necessary.

We’ve discussed scent. Jed reeked after a workout and had to take a quick shower. Or ... the woman obsessed with him, breaks into his home and he finds her sudsing it up in his shower with his Armani shower gel.

As the writer builds layer upon layer of subtle details, the character, in this case Jed, becomes more real for the reader. The details make us like or dislike Jed and the people in his life, they draw us near or push us away.

So the next time you dive into a book, pay attention to the detail being crafted by the author. What have you learned about the characters in the book and why do you feel the way you do about them?

And think about what the author might have done to get you there — maybe making herself stinky in a mall all in the name of research.

Text Only
TGN Bloggers

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
AP Video
Raw: Massive Dust Storm Covers Phoenix 12-hour Cease-fire in Gaza Fighting Begins Raw: Bolivian Dancers Attempt to Break Record Raw: Israel, Palestine Supporters Rally in US Raw: Palestinians and Israeli Soldiers Clash Raw: Air Algerie Flight 5017 Wreckage Virginia Governor Tours Tornado Aftermath Judge Faces Heat Over Offer to Help Migrant Kids Kerry: No Deal Yet on 7-Day Gaza Truce Kangaroo Goes Missing in Oklahoma More M17 Bodies Return, Sanctions on Russia Grow Gaza Residents Mourn Dead Amid Airstrikes Raw: Deadly Tornado Hits Virginia Campground Ohio State Marching Band Chief Fired After Probe Raw: Big Rig Stuck in Illinois Swamp Cumberbatch Brings 'Penguins' to Comic-Con Raw: Air Algerie Crash Site in Mali Power to Be Restored After Wash. Wildfire Crashed Air Algerie Plane Found in Mali Israel Mulls Ceasefire Amid Gaza Offensive

Last weekend (July 12) the Goshen Parks Department held its Kid’s Try-athlon to promote childhood fitness and this week (July 18) the new bicycle trail is open to the fairgrounds in Goshen, offering residents a healthy way to get to the annual agriculture exposition. Have you joined the local fitness movement?

Yes, I work at eating healthy and exercising
No, I am happy with my fitness level
Changing my diet and exercise frequency is a work in progress
     View Results

Daniel Riordan has been writing for newspapers since he was 16. Previous newspaper stops include Warsaw and Plymouth. He joined The Goshen News in March 2013 and is enjoying getting to know the city. He has up to this point been able to resist any urge to watch cat videos on YouTube.

I am a journalist for The Goshen News in Goshen, Ind. I handle regional news and am the digital content editor.

Shelly Wilfong is the director of the International Baccalaureat Degree program at Goshen High School in Goshen, Ind.

David Vantress is sports editor at The Goshen News. He is a 1994 journalism graduate of San Diego State University. David has opinions and isn't afraid to share them.

Sam Householder is the chief photographer at The Goshen News. He is a 2010 graduate of Ball State University, with a bachelor's degree in photojournalism. He lives in Goshen with his fiancee, Ashley, and their cat, Rascal.

Roger Schneider is city editor for The Goshen News. He enjoys bicycling, fishing and photography.

Scott Weisser is entertainment and emergency services editor for The Goshen News.