Need description help

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This topic contains 26 replies, has 11 voices, and was last updated by  Nancy2009 11 years, 2 months ago.

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  • #314661

    littleindian78
    Participant
  • #356963

    littleindian78
    Participant

    I need help describing the smell of a “six-shooter” from my protagonist’s pov as it is being held to her face.  Her senses are heighted since her life is in danger.  I haven’t been around firearms for a good 30 years or so.  Am trying to describe this smell from memory.

    The pistol hasn’t been well cared for so it wouldn’t necessarily smell like gun oil.  Maybe a little rusty.  Would the term “bitter bite of old sulfer” be appropriate?  Or would “metalic bite of sulfer” be better? 

    Thanks!

  • #356964

    EightySix
    Participant

    I’d go with the metallic one.  

  • #356965

    carolinegwen
    Participant

    My vote is for metallic too. 🙂

    Liz

  • #356966

    Kyle Bartletta
    Participant

    It’s “sulfur” (not sulfer), but how about “the acrid odor of gunpowder?” (Sulfur is a non-metallic element).

  • #356967

    hohoholly
    Participant

    I would say,”the acrid smell of gunpowder” (the word odor seems a bit too genteel for the situation and/or the Wild West), or “metallic bite of sulphur.”

    Joan

  • #356968

    Mikala Engel
    Participant

    I know how a weapon smells when fired, but, honestly, I’ve never thought about the smell of the gun itself.   If it’s clean, it should smell like gun oil.  If it’s been fired recently, it shuld smell like burnt gunpowder.  But the smell of the gun itself?  Hmmm.  I’d have to think about that one.

  • #356969

    megsouza
    Participant

    To choose between the offerings, the second would work best if bite came first…the nostril assaulting bite of metallic sulfur.

    In trying to mentally think of the smell of a fired gun, my mind went through several possibilities.  Then I thought maybe your protag could do the same thing…mind reeling…sulfur, oil, metal, stale burn. 

    Good luck!

  • #356970

    RubiJayne
    Participant

    Since a gun doesn’t have a particularly strong smell, how about the shooter? Did the shooter need a deoderant stick? Or perhaps a testosterone overloaded crazy guy? Or even a cheap perfumed, ahem, lady.

  • #356971

    littleindian78
    Participant

    OOPS!  My kingdom for the ability to spell well or at least the good sense to look things up!  Goodness.  BLUSH.

    Thanks everyone for your advice. I may take Linnea’s route and skip the physical description and concentrate on her feelings during the attack rather than the surroundings.  Sheesh, who ever said writing would be easy huh?! 

  • #356972

    Kyle Bartletta
    Participant

    Okay, Lisa . . . I just went into the room in this old farmhouse where the guns are kept. Admittedly, they are all long guns, as opposed to pistols, but I smelled the end of the barrels of nine of them, and the only one that had any noticible odor on it was the .22 that I shot just this morning at a nasty little varmint (raccoon), and it smelled like burnt gunpowder, just as James suggested. The others were all cleaned at the end of the hunting seasons last year, but I didn’t even smell the odor of the gun oil on them. 

  • #356973

    Mikala Engel
    Participant

    Sulfur is a component of black gunpowder, but not of modern smokeless powder. Smokeless powder is made primarily from nitrocellulose, with other chemicals, such as nitoglycerin, sometimes added.

    And even black powder doesn’t smell much like sulfur, to me. It’s acrid, pungent, but there really isn’t a strong sulfur smell.

    Rust does have a smell, but it’s very faint. Iron and ordinary steel do have a taste, and it’s this people usually think they’re smelling. 

  • #356974

    littleindian78
    Participant

    Wow, it’s a good thing I checked here huh?  I’d have sounded totally out in left field.  Funny the things your mind makes up on its own. 

    So, it’s a description of her feelings I’ll be working on tonight.

    Thanks again, everyone for the help!  I knew I could count on you.

    PS, Gena, did you know I was going to study to be a paralegal when I first graduated from high school?  Our similarities continue to crack me up.  Kindred spirits.  Alas, I never got to go to college, but still think about how I might have enjoyed that career.

  • #356975

    dwtk
    Participant

    Hi Lisa,

    Since most people already have memories of how these things smell, why not just say, “The musty scent of rust and burnt gunpowder invaded her nostrils as he held the six-shooter against her face.” This allows the reader to participate in the story by invoking their own past memories. You can also include the smell of his sweat mixed with the scent of the gun to heighten the senses.

    Bob

  • #356976

    littleindian78
    Participant

    Hi Bob – I had managed to describe the sweaty, icky smell of her assailant.  He stinks.  I got wrapped up in the smell of the gun before I learned (from here) that was not a good idea.  At least I had half the description right huh?

    There’s hope for me yet.

  • #356977

    Nancy2009
    Participant

    novembergal – 2007-08-06 7:37 PM Okay, Lisa . . . I just went into the room in this old farmhouse where the guns are kept. Admittedly, they are all long guns, as opposed to pistols, but I smelled the end of the barrels of nine of them, and the only one that had any noticible odor on it was the .22 that I shot just this morning at a nasty little varmint (raccoon), and it smelled like burnt gunpowder, just as James suggested. The others were all cleaned at the end of the hunting seasons last year, but I didn’t even smell the odor of the gun oil on them. 

    I can’t believe you’d shoot a raccoon. I can’t believe you’d call it a “nasty little varmint.”

    I suppose it’s not enough that we have to kill cows and chickens and pigs to feed our fat faces with McNuggets and pork rhines, but we have to kill innocent wildlife that we will never eat, as well. What part of God is it that is still so dark?

    By all means keep sniffing the ends of loaded rifles; it’s just so, you.

  • #356978

    Mikala Engel
    Participant

    Geist – 2007-08-07 12:45 AM

    novembergal – 2007-08-06 7:37 PM Okay, Lisa . . . I just went into the room in this old farmhouse where the guns are kept. Admittedly, they are all long guns, as opposed to pistols, but I smelled the end of the barrels of nine of them, and the only one that had any noticible odor on it was the .22 that I shot just this morning at a nasty little varmint (raccoon), and it smelled like burnt gunpowder, just as James suggested. The others were all cleaned at the end of the hunting seasons last year, but I didn’t even smell the odor of the gun oil on them.

    I can’t believe you’d shoot a raccoon. I can’t believe you’d call it a “nasty little varmint.”

    I suppose it’s not enough that we have to kill cows and chickens and pigs to feed our fat faces with McNuggets and pork rhines, but we have to kill innocent wildlife that we will never eat, as well. What part of God is it that is still so dark?

    By all means keep sniffing the ends of loaded rifles; it’s just so, you.

    Never eat?  Have you never tried baked raccoon?

    As for innocent wildwife, yeah, right.  Every one of those masked bandits should be given the death penalty for habitual theft.

  • #356979

    Jen
    Participant

    My concern would be how *she* would describe the smell of the gun.   I know nothing about her, but how about something like:

    “It had a faint metallic smell, like an old steel sink.  There was another smell lingering just beneath the surface of the first, a more sinister stink of oil and burnt matches.  A grim reminder for what purpose the weapon was meant.”

    dan

  • #356980

    Kyle Bartletta
    Participant

    Geist – 2007-08-07 1:45 AM

    novembergal – 2007-08-06 7:37 PM Okay, Lisa . . . I just went into the room in this old farmhouse where the guns are kept. Admittedly, they are all long guns, as opposed to pistols, but I smelled the end of the barrels of nine of them, and the only one that had any noticible odor on it was the .22 that I shot just this morning at a nasty little varmint (raccoon), and it smelled like burnt gunpowder, just as James suggested. The others were all cleaned at the end of the hunting seasons last year, but I didn’t even smell the odor of the gun oil on them. 

    I can’t believe you’d shoot a raccoon. I can’t believe you’d call it a “nasty little varmint.”

    I suppose it’s not enough that we have to kill cows and chickens and pigs to feed our fat faces with McNuggets and pork rhines, but we have to kill innocent wildlife that we will never eat, as well. What part of God is it that is still so dark?

    By all means keep sniffing the ends of loaded rifles; it’s just so, you.

    How about I trap them and bring them to your property and let them go. There’s nothing “innocent” about a raccoon. I shoot several of them each week, from late spring to early fall, to keep them away from my laying hens. You’ve apparently never seen what a raccoon does in a chicken house. I also shoot opossums, and occasionally a fox or two—all of which have either killed some of my chickens or steal their eggs, or both. 

    Only a fool would assume that I would keep a loaded rifle in the house. (I would usually put a smiley face after a comment like that, but in this case, it doesn’t seem appropriate).

    And who says “we will never eat” raccoons. I, personally don’t because I wouldn’t dress one out, but I have people in this farm country who have offered to buy them from me for that purpose. Outside of varmints which I don’t cook, I do cook venison, wild turkey, rabbit, squirrel — in fact, I’ve written a wild game cookbook.

    And by the way, it’s pork “rinds”.   

  • #356981

    Kyle Bartletta
    Participant

    Jamesaritchie – 2007-08-07 8:40 AM

    Geist – 2007-08-07 12:45 AM

    novembergal – 2007-08-06 7:37 PM Okay, Lisa . . . I just went into the room in this old farmhouse where the guns are kept. Admittedly, they are all long guns, as opposed to pistols, but I smelled the end of the barrels of nine of them, and the only one that had any noticible odor on it was the .22 that I shot just this morning at a nasty little varmint (raccoon), and it smelled like burnt gunpowder, just as James suggested. The others were all cleaned at the end of the hunting seasons last year, but I didn’t even smell the odor of the gun oil on them.

    I can’t believe you’d shoot a raccoon. I can’t believe you’d call it a “nasty little varmint.”

    I suppose it’s not enough that we have to kill cows and chickens and pigs to feed our fat faces with McNuggets and pork rhines, but we have to kill innocent wildlife that we will never eat, as well. What part of God is it that is still so dark?

    By all means keep sniffing the ends of loaded rifles; it’s just so, you.

    Never eat?  Have you never tried baked raccoon?

    As for innocent wildwife, yeah, right.  Every one of those masked bandits should be given the death penalty for habitual theft.

    Thanks James. Just because I don’t cook raccoon doesn’t mean I haven’t eaten it. I prefer it stewed — but maybe, just to gross what’s his name out a little more, I’ll skin this morning’s raccoon, as I haven’t taken it up to the hill yet, and try it baked. I do have a recipe for it.

  • #356982

    Nancy2009
    Participant

    novembergal – 2007-08-07 11:34 AM

    How about I trap them and bring them to your property and let them go.

    I wish you would. We have rescued many orphaned raccoons and released them when they were old enough. Gee, now I know how they get orphaned.

     There’s nothing “innocent” about a raccoon. I shoot several of them each week, from late spring to early fall, to keep them away from my laying hens. You’ve apparently never seen what a raccoon does in a chicken house. I also shoot opossums, and occasionally a fox or two—all of which have either killed some of my chickens or steal their eggs, or both. 

    No, you enjoy killing them. It’s far less work to secure your chicken coup.

    Only a fool would assume that I would keep a loaded rifle in the house. (I would usually put a smiley face after a comment like that, but in this case, it doesn’t seem appropriate).

    And who says “we will never eat” raccoons. I, personally don’t because I wouldn’t dress one out, but I have people in this farm country who have offered to buy them from me for that purpose. Outside of varmints which I don’t cook, I do cook venison, wild turkey, rabbit, squirrel — in fact, I’ve written a wild game cookbook.

    And by the way, it’s pork “rinds”.   

    Do whatever you want; it’s your karma.

  • #356983

    littleindian78
    Participant

    Ha Linnea – I just got a mental picture of a rooster gathering his folds against the attack of a racoon.  Sort of a Foghorn Leghorn character with his chest all puffed out, taking on Wylie Coyote.  I miss the old Warner Brother’s cartoons.

    We had chickens and racoons both when I was young.  No matter how deep my dad burried the fencing, those stinker racoons always burrowed under far enough to steal eggs and chickens both.  We finally got a dog. But get this:  the dog started killing the chickens too.  Boy, was my dad mad.  So, we gave up on chickens.  Luckily, we hadn’t had them for income or anything. 

    The only thing my dad ever had to shoot were the skunks.  OH LORDY did they smell bad and for some reason wanted badly to fight with our cat and nest in our wood shed.  PPPPEEEEEEEWWWWWWWWWW.    

    That’s a smell I’ll never forget.  Looking back on that now, I wonder if there would have been a way to relocate the skunks or if anyone would have had the guts to try.  LOL

  • #356984

    Kyle Bartletta
    Participant

    EzRytr – 2007-08-07 5:42 PM Ha Linnea – I just got a mental picture of a rooster gathering his folds against the attack of a racoon.  Sort of a Foghorn Leghorn character with his chest all puffed out, taking on Wylie Coyote.  I miss the old Warner Brother’s cartoons.

    We had chickens and racoons both when I was young.  No matter how deep my dad burried the fencing, those stinker racoons always burrowed under far enough to steal eggs and chickens both.  We finally got a dog. But get this:  the dog started killing the chickens too.  Boy, was my dad mad.  So, we gave up on chickens.  Luckily, we hadn’t had them for income or anything. 

    The only thing my dad ever had to shoot were the skunks.  OH LORDY did they smell bad and for some reason wanted badly to fight with our cat and nest in our wood shed.  PPPPEEEEEEEWWWWWWWWWW.    

    That’s a smell I’ll never forget.  Looking back on that now, I wonder if there would have been a way to relocate the skunks or if anyone would have had the guts to try.  LOL

    No, I wouldn’t think about shooting a skunk. Although I might seriously consider trapping one of those little stinkers and letting it loose on . . . oh, nevermind. I’m nicer than that.

  • #356985

    Kyle Bartletta
    Participant

    Geist – 2007-08-07 5:15 PM

    novembergal – 2007-08-07 11:34 AM

    How about I trap them and bring them to your property and let them go.

    I wish you would. We have rescued many orphaned raccoons and released them when they were old enough. Gee, now I know how they get orphaned.

    I wanted to let this go without comment, but can’t. It’s do-gooders who “rescue” and then “release” these varmints, way out in the country (as in where I live) who make it necessary for people like me, who finds no joy in doing so, to shoot them so they’ll do less damage to livestock, and gardens, etc. 

     There’s nothing “innocent” about a raccoon. I shoot several of them each week, from late spring to early fall, to keep them away from my laying hens. You’ve apparently never seen what a raccoon does in a chicken house. I also shoot opossums, and occasionally a fox or two—all of which have either killed some of my chickens or steal their eggs, or both. 

    No, you enjoy killing them. It’s far less work to secure your chicken coup.

    Another assumption on your part. My chicken coop is as secure as one can be, short of wiring it for electrical shocks, but that would hurt the chickens and the egg laying, and the fence still gets dug under, or climbed over, or torn down by your innocent little raccoons, and chickens get killed.  It’s either the chickens or the raccoons — my preference is the chickens and their eggs. You obviously prefer the raccoons (too bad they don’t lay eggs). You write ghost stories — I write love stories. I don’t read ghost stories, and somehow I doubt if you read love stories. To each his own.

  • #356986

    Kyle Bartletta
    Participant

    Yes, Linnea. Pets are so funny. My cat acts like a border collie around the chickens. He keeps them in line, and they actually mind him, now that they’ve gotten used to him bossing them around. .

  • #356987

    Nancy2009
    Participant

    ishtar’sgate – 2007-08-07 4:33 PM

    Wow, you’re a dangerous woman! We don’t get racoons up here, at least I haven’t seen any. Lots of foxes, coyotes, wolves and bobcats though. I’m a very poor farmer, I guess. I can’t shoot anything. The most I’ve ever done is go after a coyote with a shovel. He was showing far too much interest in a newly born foal. Foxes in the hen house are a real problem. When I had chickens I had to lock them up tight at night. They still got a few if I wasn’t paying attention although the rooster was great at rounding them up at the first signs of trouble. Other people around here had trouble with weasels. We had weasels on the property but all they wanted was our barn’s mouse population which they were welcome to. My biggest fear is bears. Plenty out where we are and we don’t own a gun so if they went after our horses I don’t know what we’d do. Grizzlies have been sighted in a neighbor’s field but so far they’ve stayed off our property. Maybe they don’t like our dogs.

    Linnea

    http://www.linneaheinrichs.com

    My sister lives in your neck of the woods. Aren’t you from Vancouver, BC ?

     

    [/QUOTE]

  • #356988

    Nancy2009
    Participant

    Our chickens were free range so the dogs had to learn to leave them alone. Our smallest dog was afraid of them. No problem with him. Our Husky/Shepherd wanted to kill them in the worst way and we had to break him of it. We took him right into the chicken house with us and when his teeth began chattering and he strained at his leash we tugged him back hard and said, NO! We had to do it about three times and after that when he saw them outside he walked right past them. Our third dog was unique. She and the rooster used to curl up together in our back bootroom. They were the best of friends. If she played with him a bit too rough he’d give her a sharp peck on the nose and then she’d behave.

    Linnea

    http://www.linneaheinrichs.com

    Good for you. Sounds like you’ve found a way to make it work. It’s all in the IQ I suppose.

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