Dan Goodman's prediction and politics journal.

Saturday, April 24, 2004

On writing synesthetic characters.
Basics to remember:
1) Synesthetic sensations don't replace the original ones; they co-exist. For example, someone who sees music also hears it. Keep this in mind, and you'll avoid one of the most common mistakes sf/fantasy writers make when writing about synesthesia.

2) To a synesthete, synesthesia is ordinary. It's the usual state of consciousness, not a continual "Oh wow, I'm as high as Tim Leary ever got!" big deal. (What happens when synesthetes take pschycedelic drugs? Some temporarily lose their synesthesias.) She may know, intellectually, that most people aren't synesthetic. (There are more female than male synesthetes.) Or may not have found that out yet; I've read of a man who reached 60 before finding out most people, including his fellow mathematicians, were appallingly abnormal.

3) Synesthetes vary. People who associate colors with letters of the alphabet don't usually make the same associations. Some synesthetes have eidetic memories; others have terrible memories. Perfect pitch is more common among synesthetes than among the general population; but there are tone-deaf synesthetes, and others everywhere in between.

One good place to begin research is Sean Day's website: http://home.comcast.net/~sean.day/Synesthesia.htm

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