Sweat

When I’m writing I try to remember all the things that make us human, I talked about blood already and how we react to it.  The human body is an amazing thing and it’s movements, functions and physical being are fantastic ways to show emotion, action and even setting in a story.

When I talk about things like blood, I would use is sparingly, but what about sweat? I doubt I would have my characters sweating constantly, that’s gross. However, it can be a really good indicator for many things. Like with pretty much everything else sweating is personally unique. Some people sweat 24/7 some never sweat. Sweat is a tangible and visible que with definite possibilities

Some causes of sweat
Stress
Fear
Exertion -exercise – out of shape
Heat – room – weather – overdressed
Sick
Nervous

These are alternate words from the Thesaurus.com, some of these might earn an eye roll from the reader, since they are not common and frankly, I had no idea what transudation was.

Diaphoresis
Exudation
Transudation
Steam (This has potential)
Excretion (This just sounds gross)
Sudor (um okay…)

 Now I know the following myself words that can be used to describe sweating 

Glow
Perspire
Drip
Glisten
Swelter
Wilt
Seep
Soak
Drenched
Stain

If sweating is going to become a factor in “showing”, I ask myself can the person smell? Can that smell be part of the story? Humor maybe? Embarrassment? Or is it a pleasant smell to the sniffer? What about taste?

Amber paced Valerie’s office poking at the bandage on her forehead that covered a small cut with three stitches. She pulled on the front of her shirt rapidly to fan her sticky chest. She didn’t take the day off since the injury was minor, that and it was getting her a lot of attention.
“Fitting.” Amber grabbed another tissue and dabbed at her glistening face, her makeup was ruined for sure. “The ice queens’ best friend is a heat miser.”
“Actually.”
Amber spun around at Valerie’s voice.
“The thermostat is broken and the repair-person is on the way up.” Valery tilted her head to the side. “I asked you to my office to talk and clearly we need to have one.” Valery gestured curtly at the chair in front of her desk.

Valery slowed her pace rounding the corner to her street. She scratched at her soaked hairline as a drip of sweat tickled her neck. Smiling she began her cool down. Tonight was a personal best, three minutes faster than the night before. 

The salty taste of his neck still stung Valery’s tongue as she flopped back on the over-soft bed.
“Val baby I’m glad you told me.” Jackson smiled and looked over with his near black eyes, his forehead glistened in the dim light.
“That you’re super disgusting?”
His soft laugh filled the warm room. “Relish is not disgusting. But for you, I’ll skip it.”
“Yeah well.” Valery sat up and brushed back the strand of hair stuck to his temple. “Lucky for you you’re super-hot and I’m a sucker.”
He wagged his eyebrows. “You sure are.”
“Stop.” She smacked his chest playfully. He grabbed her wrist and brought it to his lips.

Sasha pulled her hand from the slender clammy one and resisted the temptation to run it on her jeans.
“It’s nice to meet you Andrew.” Sasha flicked her eyes sideways at her mother. Leave it to her to make dropping off a magazine for her father into a meet the new neighbors grown son; who is probably still living in their basement.
“I, um.” Andrew swallowed hard, his protruding Adams-apple bobbing under his glistening skin. The smell of the peach tart her mother schemed to serve wafted from the kitchen.
Sasha hugged her mom and wiped her still damp hand on the back of her mother’s designer blazer. “Next time you plan to ambush me, be cleverer and pre-trap me here for dinner or something.” Sasha kissed her cheek and waved at Andrew. “I have to go I have a lot of work to do and it’s been a less than pleasant day. Maybe next time I can stay longer.”

Sweat is a bodily function that can range from alluring to disgusting depending on the situation. Perception is key and so is how I set it up. What if Valery found sweat disgusting, well chances are two strikes would be too many and Jackson would be out. Tone of the words are important too, clammy wouldn’t fit in so well with at romantic encounter.

My advice about perspiration.
Don’t sweat it, use it to your advantage and keep it natural. A stained t-shirt armpit can be a turn off or a symbol of hard work it all depends on how you write it in and how the characters respond to it.

-Sheryl

Other body-ish posts
Missing body parts
In the eye of the beholder

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved

 Tart

Did you smell that?

My one weakness when setting a scene is forgetting to write in smell. Or if I do it’s hasty and obvious. Like. ‘He smelled pie.’  or  ‘She smelled wet dog.’

That’s what revision’s for.

However when I read a book and the described smells appear too often, over done or frankly unimaginable, I squint at the pages and no longer can I smell them in my mind.

Without:
Sasha made her way through the busy open-air market to buy the ingredients needed for dinner and desert. She wanted to impress. She stopped in her tracks on the busy sidewalk upon seeing the ripe peaches. Her plan was to make chocolate cake. She couldn’t resist the fresh peaches and bought the basket of them. Cobbler would be better than cake.

With:
The aroma of fresh baked breads, pies, herbs and meats of various types being cooked wafted up to greet her. Sasha loved the open-air market in the morning. She made her way through the bustling sidewalk purchasing the ingredients she needed for dinner and dessert. She stopped in her tracks on beside a busy stall as the sweet scent of sun warmed ripe peaches hit her nose. She planned to make chocolate cake, that idea faded as she picked up the fuzzy red and orange fruit and held it to her nose. With her mouth-watering, she bought a basket. Her grandma’s cobbler would impress better than cake.

I do this all the time, write a scene and forget to make it appeal to the imaginary senses. It usually means I was hasty and to make it right it will add words.

Without:
Tanya walked across the lawn in her bare feet. The feeling of the long cool grass soothing her tired battered soul. It had been a long day of nothing going right. She stepped to the sidewalk, reached into the mailbox and took out the stack of junk mail and bills. With a sigh, she turned and set her foot down in the still warm dog poo.
“You have got to be fu.” She bit her tongue as a mother and toddler in as stroller went by.

With:
Tanya walked barefoot across the lawn. The long cool grass soothed her tired battered soul. It had been a long day of nothing going right. She stepped across the sun-warm sidewalk, reached into the mailbox and removed the junk mail and bills. With a sigh, she turned to go back and set her foot down in a pile of still warm dog poo hidden in the grass. The pungent foul odor hitting her nostrils as it squished up between her toes.
“You have got to be fu.” She bit her tongue as a mother and toddler in as stroller went by.

It’s not much, but it’s enough to engage my memory of smell. Everyone knows what things smell like so there is no point dragging out the description of the scent, a vague or short direct reference is enough.

My advice about sniffing out smells.
People don’t smell things constantly every moment of every day and remark on them mentally or verbally. The unpleasant smell of rotting fish will cause a nose to wrinkle, fresh cut onions may bring tears to the eye. Make the character experiences it and therefore the reader. A smell is a great way to set the scene, evoke an emotion or liven up a dull paragraph/scene.

-Sheryl

Other related posts

Oops! What did I just say?

That sounds complicated

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved

Sidewalk
Scent