The Sixth Sense

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.

43 thoughts on “The Sixth Sense

  1. Reblogged this on Archer's Aim and commented:

    Well, aside from the movie, there are many ways to use an extra sense. Read more about it in this post from Joan Hall over at Story Empire. My gut’s telling me you’ll find it helpful, just like the rest of her post series about using senses in writing.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I have a VERY strong sixth sense. I used to ignore it, but that only caused my anxiety to get out of control. Now, I pay close attention to that gut feeling and work myself through it until I figure out what the message is. I would say my sixth sense has been accurate 85-90% of the time, so I tend to trust it. I think being an empath helps because empaths tend to pay attention to the subtleties around them, even if only subconsciously. I like the idea of a character having a sixth sense. I’m going to have to explore that. Thanks, Joan! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • I used to be more aware of my sixth sense, but I’m going to start paying closer attention. I have several instances (including dreams) where I knew something was going to happen. I enjoyed hearing yoru story!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I just finished a CE class that addressed listening to your gut instinct, and how our intuition is there for a reason. It had to deal with safety and being in unsafe situations. I don’t think I’ve ever had any personal experience with the sixth sense (at least none that springs to mind), but I have played with it in several novels. BTW, thank you for the shout out about Hode’s Hill 🙂

    I have a trunk novel—the one that I’ve talked about in the past that has morphed genres multiple times–that uses sixth sense. I actually started looking at my notes on it the other day. Weird. Hmmm….maybe I sensed something in your post today that would pull me in that direction 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Interesting about the CE class. I do believe that inner sense is there for a reason, sometimes to warn us of danger. Happy to give a shout out to Hodes Hill. And I think you should dust off that trunk novel!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I wouldn’t say I have used the sixth sense in my writing as you describe it, but I do have a short story where the main character is the only one to hear a fictional character talk to her. Some might think of it as a sixth sense, but the fictional character doesn’t always help.

    This was a great series.

    Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks, Joan. The original story was done as a fundraiser for a local writing non-profit. The premise was to have a writer that was part of a writing group that solved a mystery with the help of a fictional character that only that writer could see and hear. These writers were all from a fictitious town and could be used in any of the other writers stories. It was a fun project.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. In my Jazzi Zanders series, Jazzi’s grandma has the gift of sight, but it’s as confusing as it’s helpful. She tells Jazzi something important, but no one knows what it exactly means until the right time. This has been a fun series of posts. I’ve enjoyed it.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I love this sense most of all. I use it in my Amanda stories at times. Kids definitely have a sixth sense. The trouble is adults don´t often believe them. I love Radar O’Reilly and I had the pleasure of meeting Gary Burghoff in an elevator of a hotel in Edmonton, Alberta. He was very nice and was taking his little dog out for a walk. This has been a great series and I have bookmarked them. Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m so glad you enjoyed these, Darlene. I agree kids are very intuitive. How nice that you met Gary Burghoff. I once met G. W. Bailey (who played Sgt. Rizzo in later episodes of the show). He too was very nice and personable. When I told him I loved MASH reruns, he signed his autograph as “Sgt. Rizzo, MASH.”

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Reblogged this on The Write Stuff and commented:

    If you’ve been following along with Joan Hall’s Story Empire posts on using the five senses in writing (and even if you haven’t), you’ll want to check out today’s post, for sure. She’s covered the standard senses of sight, smell, etc, and is now talking about what’s known as the Sixth Sense. Call it what you will, it’s intriguing to consider ways to use this one in your books, too. Head on over to see for yourself, and please pass the post along as well, so that others can enjoy this idea. Thanks, and thanks to Joan for another great post! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Well now you KNOW I love this post, Joan! While I don’t think I have a particularly well-developed sixth sense myself, in Book 2 of my Wake-Robin Ridge series, I started writing about someone who does. That little boy named Rabbit has what mountain folks call the Sight, better described as ESP, or a sixth sense, as you say. He is the most fun to write of all my characters, and honestly, I never know what he’s going to say or do. But HE knows way more than most, and he’s never mistaken, even when it takes him a while to figure out what his senses are telling him.

    Rabbit is gifted in this way, but he also has a strong sense of justice, therefore, he uses the Sight to right wrongs, help people in trouble or pain, and seek truth where he can. He might be only 12 (in the last book), but he’s an old soul, and I’m so glad he’s come to stay on the Ridge.

    Great post! (Sorry about the stereo lid! 😉 ) Sharing!

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’m looking forward to “meeting” Rabbit. I’ve heard good things about him. I managed to glue the stereo lid together. Probably kept it until I was in my late teens or early twenties, then I got one that also had an eight track player. (Those were the days.)

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I’ve got a trunk novel (well, series, really; the three books are outlined and book one is well underway) that deals with this. It will probably never get finished. Maybe I’ll incorporate the concept into a different work.

    I love reading the comments here. I bet everyone has a story or two along these lines.

    This was a great series, Joan. But this one might be my favorite of the bunch. Nice work.

    Liked by 3 people

  10. I don’t know that I’ve ever written someone quite like you describe. Plenty of weird and magical stuff, but not a sixth sense. When I was a kid, my mom took a friend and I up the highway to an old oil shale mine. It was full of fossils and we wanted to poke around. The hair on the back of my neck stood up and I couldn’t get out of there fast enough. Later that week someone found a body nearby. That’s about the only time I’ve ever experienced anything like that. Circumstantial evidence?

    Liked by 2 people

  11. My inner voice is 50/50. Think a lot of it involves stress levels. Too much and it goes wonky with either irrational fear or just turning off. In writing, my characters sense a lot of things. Much of it comes from them bring aware of their surroundings and homing their subconscious. Tends to happen when they find enough trapped ruins and get into enough battles.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. So many times, I wish I’d listened to my intuition. I wouldn’t have suffered a devastating car crash with a gas truck in my early twenties if only I’d listened to that little voice within that was yelling at me. I let fear take me my usual route instead of going a new way after dropping off a colleague.
    Before I had my ill-fated routine surgery that ended up in losing my leg, everything within told me to cancel the surgery, but I had no rational reason and went ahead. Had I not, my life would have been very different now, I’m sure.

    Other times, I did listen. Like when I knew my twin had gone into labour. I got up in the middle of a lecture at nursing college and asked to use the lecturer’s office phone. Sure enough, she was in hospital alone and scared. So I hotfooted it over there.

    Too many instances to count, I know who’s on the phone before I pick up.

    They say cancerians are extra intuitive, so maybe that’s what I can put it down to. All I can say is, these days, I listen to my intuition every time. No exceptions. I’ve learned not to ignore it, even if other folks think I’m nuts, lol.

    Great post, Joan. I’ve really enjoyed this series. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • Wow, Harmony. I knew about your accident and the loss of your leg, but I had no idea you had an intuition to take a different route. I’ve had experiences with knowing who was calling and in one case the reason for the call. That was in the days before caller ID. I’ve also had dreams that came true. Most recently, I started a blog post and planned to include pictures of my three cats. Something told me the third cat (the outdoor one) wouldn’t be around much longer. He disappeared a few days later.

      Liked by 1 person

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