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May 06, 2014

Use the Sixth Sense



To create excellent prose you need to use the five senses: sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell. But to create amazing suspense and horror, you need to also use the sixth sense: your intuitive hunch, or more precisely, your character’s intuitive hunch.

Letting your readers know your MC's thoughts can help them identify with your character and understand his/her motives. It can also add depth to your story. And including the sixth sense can heighten the suspense in your story, which is always a plus!

When a character senses something dangerous is close, but doesn’t know what it is, then the reader’s anticipation and fear grows too. If a character has a hunch that something bad is about to happen, your readers will become as anxious as your character. What is it? What’s going to happen? How bad will it be?


Here are 3 tips on how to use a character’s sixth sense in your story:

1.    Give your character a reason to use his/her sixth sense.

You can do this by creating a suspicious character who gives your protagonist an odd feeling, writing about an event that leads him/her to believe something isn’t right, or by putting your character in a place or situation that gives him/her a reason to suspect danger is close.

2.    Add suspense!

The best way to make the most out of a character’s sixth sense is to add a great deal of suspense to your story. In turn, your character’s sixth sense will become a major part of the suspense.

Suspense can be created with something as small as a frightening sound that your protagonist hears, or as big as seeing headlights in his/her rear-view mirror and thinking it belongs to a car of someone who is following him/her.

3.    Make your protagonist’s fear/hunch real.

When your MC’s sixth sense is in full swing, don’t just brush it off as an overactive imagination. Let the fear/hunch be real, to some extent. If your protagonist senses he/she is being followed, perhaps it’s not a stalker but a friend who is trying to catch up to him/her. When you want the action to start though, that is when the person will be a stalker.


SHARE: Your tips to using a character’s sixth sense.

QUESTION: Has your sixth sense ever helped you?



28 comments:

debi o'neille said...

Hi Chrys. Great post. I love using a sixth sense for my characters and for creating tension. But sometimes I like it when I've seen writers pull off having a character who doesn't know they should be worried, but the reader does know. :-) I like it both ways.
Deb@ http://debioneille.blogspot.com

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Congratulations, River!
I probably need to use the sixth sense more often.

River Fairchild said...

Thanks so much for highlighting my book, Chrys!
Yes, there is so much added with a sixth sense...especially if a shadow with antennas sneaks up on you...LOL!

Pat Hatt said...

The sixth sense can be played with well, sure much more fun than smell lol

Chrys Fey said...

Both ways are certainly good! I like tricking my readers too, and surprising them by having something happen suddenly that they and my characters don't expect. ;)

Chrys Fey said...

It could be useful, Alex. :)

Chrys Fey said...

You're so very welcome, River. Any time, any book! :D

lol You have to watch out for those shadows with antennas. :P

Chrys Fey said...

Smell can get tricky . . . and disgusting. haha

Unknown said...

Every time I read the BLURB I imagine myself as David.
Congrats to River she does a great job!

Loni Townsend said...

River's cover is freaking gorgeous!

I like the sixth sense, assuming the character has one. :) I have one character who relies heavily on his, while another one who is almost oblivious.

J.H. Moncrieff said...

Great post! I think using a character's sixth sense can add depth or excitement to any story, even if you're writing women's fiction.

And my own has served me very well, but all the resulting stories are pretty creepy. Let's just say it's kept me out of some bad situations.

Chrys Fey said...

She sure does!

Chrys Fey said...

Isn't it? It blows me mind. The cover for Diamonds and Dust is also gorgeous.

I hope all characters have one because most people have a sixth sense, some are just more powerful than others. :)

Chrys Fey said...

I agree. The sixth scene could be used for every genre. :)

Well, then that's good!

Anonymous said...

Yay, I like seeing this book around.

I believe in a sixth sense and enjoy it when characters have it too.

Kelly Hashway said...

I totally believe in the sixth sense. I love to see it in books. These are great tips, Chrys.

Slamdunk said...

I enjoy it when an author pulls off a 6th sense aspect well--it does take time and care to weave it into a story though. I think that is where your #3 is important.

I do belief there is something beyond what medical science tells us there is. When I worked in uniform, there were several times when I felt the need to do something that worked out well for all in the end.

Keep up the good writing Chrys.

Lynda R Young as Elle Cardy said...

Great tips!
The cover for Dragon's Lament is gorgeous.

Jocelyn Rish said...

Wow, that cover is freakin' gorgeous.

The MC of my WIP actually has a notorious overactive imagination, so her 'sixth sense' is always getting her in trouble. :-)

Unknown said...

Thank you for your kind support, much appreciated.

Chrys Fey said...

So do I. Just like I loved seeing your book around. :)

Chrys Fey said...

Thank you, Kelly!

Chrys Fey said...

It does take care to make it effective.

Thank you! I will. ;)

Chrys Fey said...

Thank you! I know . . . I'm in love with it. :)

Chrys Fey said...

Isn't it?!

That's great! :P

Chrys Fey said...

You're welcome, Carole! :)

Yanting Gueh said...

Many writers neglect the sixth sense in their characters. I might need to use it more often for mine, too. Great cover and blurb. Congratulations to River on the release!

Chrys Fey said...

They do and it is an invaluable tool. :)