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The Writer’s Life: Write Descriptions Like You Are 1 in 500,000


The Writer’s Life: Write Descriptions Like You Are 1 in 500,000

Okay, you have no idea what is meant  by 1 in 500,000. Patience grasshopper. There is a condition called Synesthesia. You may have heard of it. Maybe not. It is a medical phenomenon in which one experiences stimulation of one of the five senses and that stimulation then evokes the automatic, involuntary stimulation of a secondary other sense. It is said that 1 in every 500,000 people have Synesthesia. It is not a disability or something insufferable. It requires no treatment or medication. In fact, the disorder is often characterized by the effected person living a life of color, alive with sensation as their five-senses crisscross into one another.

Auditory-visual crisscrossing is the most common form of the condition. Imagine experiencing one stimuli from your environment (tasting something, touching something, hearing something, seeing something, or smelling something), and you register that normally with the appropriate sense being stimulated…but then one of your other senses also decides to respond.

For someone with Synesthesia sight can be seen, and can also quite literally sound like a symphony. The taste of something can literally become a mouthful of heavenly blues, and mellow yellows, all swirled together in spirals of warmth and goodness. Touch can  taste sweet, tangy, or bitter. Scents can be smelt and can also be seen, as if they were hues on the color spectrum or shapes of squares and triangles. This is the same for hearing. Songs become a little something extra as visual stimuli comes to play and suddenly music is an array of colors sparkling and dancing all around you as far as the eye can see somehow, someway communicating and corresponding with the music your ears are hearing. The experience sounds fascinating doesn’t it!?

This condition was once examined on a 2006 episode of 20/20, and used as an example of how to write vivid descriptions in the book, “Word Painting: A Guide To Writing More Descriptively”.

Let me just say this book by Rebecca McClanahan is very helpful for writers and authors, and it can be an essential addition to any writer’s library of teachable books to edify and enhance writing abilities. This book lays out painting…with your words, sentences, paragraphs, and chapters. The entire premise of this book is about teaching writers how to write as vividly and as smoothly as possible. In the chapter which covers pulling from your five senses to write more descriptively, Rebecca offers a prime example of writing and living with all of your senses at play, Synesthesia. She offers some examples of this “colored hearing” and details how as the teacher of a fourth-grade poetry class she was blown away a child, Tammy, who exhibited Synesthesia like characteristics in her writing…whether she had Synesthesia or not.

The class was challenged with a poem about a single color. The students could pick their own color and the only rule was to describe it vividly. Some of the children said things like, “red is a mad crayon/foaming at the mouth” and “green is fresh/like a new pair of lungs”.

But, Tammy, who picked the color silver, had a distinctly different type of answer. Among other multi-sensory descriptions, Tammy said that silver, “smells like sparkling gases and tastes a mouthful of bees.”

Rebecca says upon reviewing the child’s work, she was then inspired to challenge the class to evoke multi-sensory description for a wide range of things.

She writes, “I began to devise assignments that I hoped would jump-start my students into writing more unusual sensory descriptions.”

To do this she tasked her students in the poetry class with answering the following questions:

What does your name taste like?

How does red smell. What about green, yellow, or blue?

How would you describe a sunset or an object to a blind person?

What color and shapes are you dreams and emotions? How do you they move?

5th Grader Maria wrote about describing a sunset to a blind man:

What does a sunset look like

going down over the ocean?

It’s like touching a Rose

after it has rained.

It’s like hearing a river

flow downstream.

I like picturing in your mind

the sun halfway in the water

and the golden rays on the ocean.


4th Grader Mary wrote about her cat’s dreams:

My cat dreams

His dreams are like an ocean.

Waves of different dreams roll onto shore.

I will tell you, in second person, what my name looks like, feels like, smells like, and tastes like:

His name was like the froth on crashing waves in the pacific

A storm roaring in a private place far away from most eyes

The mysterious black in the shadows of thick grey clouds

The potential of life after stirring

It smelled of something sinfully good

A pleasant surprise just waiting to be discovered



Like the luscious cream under the surface of an eclair……Grantham, The Novel Gentleman

This is more vivid and descriptive than simply saying my name is Grant.

In fact, it has a romantic undertone which suggests that the writer is lusting over a lover with a dark and mysterious nature ,whose scent was temptation and who tasted like sweet……cream which is kinda weird…….since……I wrote this about myself…… 👀👀👀

….Whatever you get the point.

Vivid descriptions bring life to your writing, and bringing your five senses into play makes your words all the more pleasing to read. To that end, I want to task readers of this article to do the very same literary challenge that Rebecca did with her students. I want you to answer the following questions:

What does your name taste like?

How does red smell. What about green, yellow, or blue?

How would you describe a sunset or an object to a blind person?

What color and shapes are you dreams and emotions? How do you they move?

I welcome you to share your answers in the comments and discuss this project with your fellow writers!


Is silver smelling like “sparkling gases” and tasting like “a mouthful of bees” more interesting than it just being plain old silver?


Is the cat’s dream being like ocean waves rolling ashore more interesting than just being some cat’s boring ol’ dream?


Is a sunset beings like touching a Rose after it has rained and hearing a river flow downstream more interesting than just a basic sunset?

If your answer to any of the above was, “Yes” then don’t you want to bring that interesting quality of writing like you’re 1 in 500,000 to your written works? Imagine how a page of words can come alive if you evoke all of your senses into witting descriptively!

All the Best Writers,

The Novel Gent

For more interesting reading see

I am Grant aka The Novel Gent ~ Graduate with Bachelor of Arts Degree in Biblical Counseling with a Major in Theology and a minor in Psychology, CEO of The Writer’s Block, a Proofreader/Freelance Editor, Avid Reader, and Net Galley, Bookish First, and Tyndale Publishing Book Reviewer. I often enjoy losing myself in a good fiction piece…usually a mystery, thriller, or something dystopian. I read, write, edit, sketch, cook, listen to music of many genres, and am working on my debut novel. With my company, The Writer's Block, I offer my services as an editor hoping to give writers encouragement that there are quality services available to them that will give them what they need and will not break their bank! I am also hopeful to use my growing platform in the “Writer’s Life” and Author’s Community to provide writers with resources about how-to get to their Next Level, and also exposure via my frequent Book Reviews!

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