Hey, SE Readers. Joan with you today. Over the past few weeks, I’ve written a series of posts about using the five senses in writing. If you missed any of them, you can read by clicking on the following links:
Today, I’m going to talk about what many refer to as a sixth sense. I swear my mother had it. I became aware of her “gift” when I began junior high school. How else could she have known my boyfriend and I kissed on the school bus? Oh well, that’s a different story.
Seriously, we’ve heard the sixth sense called many things—a gut feeling, instinct, premonition, ESP, clairvoyance.
Whatever your thoughts on the subject, I believe, to a degree, we all have a sixth sense. Some of us are more in tune or aware. Have you ever been driving to work and suddenly have an inkling to take an alternate route? Later, you learn there’s been a traffic accident where you normally drive.
My first experience with this “extra” sense happened when I was around the age of fifteen. I spent a good deal of time in my bedroom listening to music. It was the 1970s, and I had one of those stereos with an acrylic cover. Unfortunately, my stereo was small, so when I played albums, I had to remove the top.
One evening, I needed something from the top shelf of my closet. The cover was lying on the floor. I grabbed a stool and started to climb up when I heard an internal voice.
You’d better move that stereo top from the floor. Otherwise, it could get broken.
Of course, I argued with myself.
Okay, just as soon as I get this box off the shelf.
Once I retrieved the item, I stepped off the stool and heard a loud crack. You guessed it. My foot came down directly onto the stereo cover. Lesson learned!
Years later, my husband had been out of work for a while and had scheduled a job interview. I woke up during the night with the strange sensation he shouldn’t go. As I lay there, I wondered how I would tell him. After all, he needed a job.
Presently, he asked if I was awake. He was also unable to sleep and had the same thoughts. First thing the next morning, he called to cancel the interview. We never knew why we both had this intuition but felt confident he’d made the right decision.
Using the sixth sense in writing can enhance a story and bring an element of suspense. It doesn’t have to be overdone. Have a character “feel” as if someone is watching them. Or a police detective has a “gut feeling” there is something more to what seems to be a cut and dry case even though there is no concrete evidence to support his intuition.
Both are simple things that can lead to interesting developments in your story.
Want to take it deeper? Give a character a special gift. Maybe he or she has dreams that often come true. Remember Radar O’Reilly on the television show MASH? He could hear the sound of incoming choppers and knew what someone was going to say before they spoke the words.
A character in another favorite TV show had the ability to tell time down to the minute without consulting her watch. In her Hodes Hill series, our own Mae Clair has a character who is an empath. There are lots of possibilities for creating unique characters.
Do you use the sixth sense in writing? If so, I’d love to hear what you’ve done.