Writing Prompt: Synesthesia

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Prompt

In writing, synesthesia is a technique that fuses color, sound taste, and smell together to present ideas, characters, or places. This technique makes ideas “more vivid and adds more layers of meaning to a text for the readers’ pleasure” that makes the piece of writing “more interesting and appealing” (LiteraryDevices.net).

Examples:

“Back to the region where the sun is silent…” – Dante Alighieri, The Divine Comedy

“With blue, uncertain, stumbling buzz…” – Emily Dickinson, “Dying”

“All colors immediately fell an octave lower…”– Bruno Schulz, The Street of Crocodiles

“A creamy blur of succulent blue sounds smells like week-old strawberries dropped into a tin sieve as mother approaches in a halo of color, chatter, and perfume like thick golden butterscotch.” – Diane Ackerman, A Natural History of the Senses

“The room’s carbonated silence is now hostile.” – David Foster Wallace, Infinite Jest.

Write a list of 6–10 descriptive sentences of your own using the technique of synesthesia.

Rationale

Synesthesia is a device that stretches your brain to create descriptions beyond what one would normally expect, thus breaking away from automatic writing. Choosing how to blend two senses together allows you to practice making connections between two seemingly opposing ideas that create an entirely new texture to your words when combining them together.

For Later

As you continue to write, you may be tempted to use clichéd descriptions, like “white as snow” or “deep blue sea.” By substituting these with descriptions using synesthesia, you will be able to break away from automatic writing—words your readers have heard many times before—and more towards fresh and original writing that surprises your readers.