That Tickle on the Back of Your Neck

Today I want to talk about listening to your sixth sense.

That little voice inside you that for no reason tells you to go inside and lock the door and don't stop to get the mail first.

The same little voice that sometimes tells you where to turn when you're lost.

The voice that is mysteriously silent when you can't find your keys.

Take your inner voice people watching. Does it tell you something about the people who cross your path that is different from what your eyes, ears, and nose tell you?

Reflections from your inner voice can always add at least one layer to your characterization.

Listen to this voice when you're stuck. Does it tell you to make your character drive across the bridge when he's supposed to show up in court? Or maybe it tells you to have your character make a phone call, but it doesn't tell you who she's supposed to call.

Just have her pick up the phone and punch in a number. You might be surprised by who answers.

Trust this voice.

What have you got to lose?


Mason Canyon said…
I learned a long time ago, listen to that voice. It can help in so many ways. It doesn't always talk when I want it to, but it does talk when I need to listen.

Thoughts in Progress
Joanne said…
I'm a firm believer in that inner voice. It's got a lot of wisdom in it, definitely, and has never steered me wrong! Interesting idea to bring it to the page, too. Not only in how we write, but to be sure to give it to our characters as well.
Lydia Kang said…
That voice is really important. Sometimes it'll flag a passage I think isn't quite right, and when a beta confirms that, that's the voice that says, "I told you so!"
Carol Kilgore said…
Mason - Exactly.

Joanne - Mine is always correct, too. Not that I always listen. Sigh.

Lydia - LOL! Same here. Loud and clear.
Talli Roland said…
Great point, Carol. I love just having my character do things when I don't always know how it'll pan out. Sometimes it's rubbish but I have been pleasantly surprised!
I usually go with my first impulse, although my wife is even better at the intuition thing.
Carol Kilgore said…
Talli - Rubbish happens. But pleasant surprises always outweigh it.

Alex - Of course she is :)
Elspeth Futcher said…
I always try to listen to the little voice, although I may not acknowledge what it's saying! It certainly seems to be right nine times out of ten, especially when it says, "What you're doing is really stupid. Stop now. Are you 10? I said stop. STOP!!!"
Carol Kilgore said…
Elspeth - Yes, when mine calls me names, I know I need to listen.
Maryannwrites said…
Interesting. I have never thought about taking my inner voice when I go people watching. I'm going to have to try it. Thanks for the tip.
Aubrie said…
Great post! My characters need to listen to their inner voice more, and I do, as well.
Kerrie said…
That is a great post. :)
Carol Kilgore said…
Maryann - Go for it. That little voice may surprise you.

Aubrie - Listen away!

Kerrie - Thanks. I appreciate your comment.
Anonymous said…
I listen to the little voice as much as any other. I hear the words and reflect on what it would do to the story and whether it would make it better or worse. Sometimes that little voice is just being malicious but othertimes it comes up with some brilliant ideas.
Thanks for sharing this advice.
Carol Kilgore said…
My little voice likes to play tricks, too, but not too often. Mostly it has brilliant ideas. My worst fault is I don't always listen. Sigh.
Southpaw said…
I know this is going to sound terrible, but I believe women are more in tune with their inner voice. The think kids are very intuitive, but as they grow men push it aside and go with facts while girls keep it. More than once, I’ve listened to my inner voice to find out the next day that the path I was supposed to take had something unpleasant happened.
Arlee Bird said…
There's probably a logical physical explanation to this "sixth sense", but it does make a good effect to use in fiction.

Tossing It Out
Carol Kilgore said…
Holly - Perhaps. Except I know some men who have this ability in spades.

Arlee - I have several thoughts about this, but the post would be way too long. Part excellent observation skills, part an innate ability to listen to your subconscious, part ???. It's the ??? part that fascinates me.
VR Barkowski said…
I agree, it's very important to listen to one's inner voice. Plus, if I didn't, I'd have no one to talk to. ;)

I'm not sure about intuitive, but the men I know are much more apt to listen to their inner voice. Women tend to spend more time chatting with their superego. Maybe it's just a difference in inner voices? Men call it instinct, women call it intuition?
Helen Ginger said…
I agree. Just like it's most often a good idea to listen to that little voice in your life, it's a good idea to listen to it in your writing life. If nothing happens, you haven't really lost anything. And if something great happens, then go with it!
You are so right about listening to that little voice. It's helped me make the right decision so many times.
Donna V.
Carol Kilgore said…
VR - Bottom line, I think, if we listen, we can learn.

Helen - Exactly. Sometimes it seems so out there, though. At least mine does.

Donna - Trusting it is often a problem for me.
Anonymous said…
That little voice is indeed necessary to listen to in life and in art. Good reminder, Carol. Thanks!
Carol Kilgore said…
You're most welcome, Kimberly.