5 Senses Minus 1 for Creativity


I’m doing double duty this month during the A to Z Blogging Challenge. Here at Heather Erickson Author/Writer/Speaker, I will share ways to increase your creativity. I’ll also be doing the challenge at Facing Cancer with Grace, where I will share posts that focus on caregiving. I hope you’ll visit me at both sites. While you’re here, sign up for my email list. Today’s post is S is for Senses.

The 5 Senses

Writers usually try to sprinkle each of the 5 senses throughout the story to make it come alive. This gives the reader a more vivid reading experience. Writers often lean heavily on the senses of sight and hearing, while neglecting the senses of taste, touch, and smell. Some writers go overboard, overwhelming readers to the point of distraction.

While balance is the key, once in a while, it’s a good idea to try something different to stretch your writing abilities. One way to do this is to eliminate one of the major sensory abilities. There must be a reason to do this which is integral to the plot. Make sure it’s not contrived.

Bird Box

A year ago, I heard about Josh Malerman’s novel, Bird Box, on The Story Grid podcast. I immediately put it on my “must read” list. The thing that interested me was a change of perspective. Malerman did something most writers would never dream of doing. He eliminated the sense of sight, almost completely from the story.

The premise of the book was that something was making everyone insane (to the point of self-destruction) by just being seen. So the main character was essentially on a quest—blindfolded. This forced not only the main character, but Josh Malerman, as well, to rely more heavily on the other 4 senses.

I recall watching an episode from the series Alfred Hitchcock Presents, called, You Got to Have Luck. An escaped convict took refuge in the home of a deaf woman, not knowing she was deaf and was reading his lips. Eventually he was caught because of this mistake. This concept has been used several times since then, most recently in the 2016 horror movie, “Hush.”  Even if you only do this as an exercise to stretch your writing muscles, I highly recommend playing with the 5 senses in your writing.

While you’re here, sign up for my email list to get a periodic email newsletter to encourage your creativity.

What are YOUR thoughts?

I’d love to hear in the comment section, below. I appreciate my readers as well as the writing community. To show that appreciation, I use Comment Luv. Just leave a comment below and your latest post will get a link next to it. Thank you!

About Heather Erickson

I am an author, writer, and speaker and homeschooling mom of 3. Since doctors diagnosed my husband, Dan with stage IV lung cancer in 2012, I’ve focused my writing and speaking on helping cancer patients and their families advocate for themselves and live life to the fullest, in spite of their illness. My goal is to help people face cancer with grace.

My books The Memory Maker’s Journal and Facing Cancer as a Friend: How to Support Someone Who Has Cancer, are available at Amazon.com.

I also blog about living with cancer at, Facing Cancer with Grace.

Have any questions or comments? I would love to hear from you! By commenting, you agree to the terms of my privacy policy.

14 comments on “5 Senses Minus 1 for Creativity

Quite interesting–both Bird Box and the Alfred Hitchcock. I wonder if Netflix has that episode…

Hi Jacqui, Netflix might. A while back I watched the series with my daughter. They are always changing what is available.

I’m with Jacqui. I’ll have to look into both. Terrific, thought-provoking post, Heather.
Enjoy tomorrow’s day off. See you on Monday.

Thank you, Karen. I loved your post, today as well!

what a great idea – I have not thought to attempt this – and already I am imagining where this might take me..

Hi Sandra, I’m glad your imagination is sparked. That’s one of my favorite times writing a story- The very conception of it. I hope it turns out fantastic!

I have to admit I hadn’t thought about the 5 senses and writing books but you are right! I’m interested in reading the Bird Box so thanks for writing about it.
I would also love you to be a guest writer for my Over 50 & Thriving series. If you are interested can you email me and I can send you the details?

Thank you, Sue. It would be an honor. I hope you enjoy the Bird Box as much as I did.

The new movie that’s out “A Quiet Place” revolves around the theme of senses – with blind aliens relying on their superdeveloped hearing. I think it sounds quite engaging and it’s on my list of things to see.

Leanne | http://www.crestingthehill.com.au
T for Take Control

Wow, Leanne! I just watched the trailer and have goosebumps. There are actually a lot of similar themes to the Bird Box. I will definitely be seeing this. Thank you for the recommendation.

I don’t like scary/horror/suspense/etc at all but I will check out the Story Grid podcast!! The idea of writing without sight certainly forces creativity!! 🙂

Hi Lee, The Story Grid has really changed the way I approach my fiction writing, and it’s fun to listen to a couple of guys discussing the craft. They will often analyze popular books like “the Martian.” I hope it’s helpful.

That is a good idea. Another blogger wrote a story (he published it on his blog in parts) where it wasn’t until the end that we realized that the protagonist was blind.

Hi Liz. If you remember who that blogger is, let me know. I would love to read his story. It’s interesting to see what happens when you remove something you rely on every day, such as sight.

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