Quote of the Moment

"What's Past Is Prologue." - William Shakespeare

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Randomness: Sense of Wonder, the Sublime, the Uncanny (And Chain Story #2)

*Grips the wheel of randomness, takes a deep breath, and pulls it into a dizzying spin* Where will the wheel stop? Who knows?

Yes, yes - I know. I didn't know last week, though. >:) Today, the wheel has landed on Sense of Wonder, the Sublime, and the Uncanny! Also, if you keep reading until the end, you'll find the beginning of another chain story for your writing pleasure.

So, as mentioned in my update post, I had my residency for my M.F.A. program this month. It was a blast, and I knew I'd want to blog about at least part of it. Dr. Al Wendland did a wonderful module on Sense of Wonder, the Sublime, and the Uncanny. I thought it would be a good idea to at least cover the definitions of these concepts as they can be hard to wrap your head around at times.

Sense of Wonder, the Sublime, and the Uncanny are all devices used in speculative fiction (and can also be found in other types of fiction). These devices make a story richer and can help deliver a bigger impact.

Sense of Wonder is found mostly in beautiful description, evoking awe and the desire to be pulled into the described location or object. The use of color is prevalent, as well as other sensory details. As a writer, you take something ordinary and make that ordinary object breathtaking with words. A sunset, a vast field of flowers, the intricacies of an electronic device - anything can be described just so to bring out that Sense of Wonder inside of us, a tug at our emotions.

The Sublime takes that Sense of Wonder to a whole different level. It's a feeling of vastness and the unknown. Instead of looking at something ordinary, the writer takes a look at something that is incomprehensible. This is utilized in things such as an alien planet or an apocalypse. The reader gains a sense of something impossible to describe when introduced to the Sublime.

And then there's the Uncanny, where you take something ordinary and make it strange. Talking cat? Uncanny. It's where the writer creates something normal that does something unexpected. If it's taken far enough, if that ordinary object is pushed to the point of changing that it becomes a bit terrifying, it turns into the Grotesque.

So, where in your writing do you take advantage of Sense of Wonder, the Sublime, and the Uncanny? Even if you weren't aware of writing these things in initially, you'll notice that they're there and they make your writing that much better.

Speaking of writing, don't forget to join us for Writing Quest - July. Sorry, had to mention it. =)

Now, as promised, here's the start of a new chain story (and an example of a Sense of Wonder). Rules are the same as last time: only add one sentence, you can add another sentence after someone else has posted, and don't be afraid to have fun (and be silly). Happy writing, all!

Beginning of Chain Story #2:

A dandelion seed danced on the wind, weaving back and forth, finally alighting on the cap of an emerald mushroom.

Continue the story in the post comments!

NEXT UP: The MGOC Series on Fantasy continues with Mike Mehalek!


  1. It quivered in the breeze, almost lifting off, but the skin of the mushroom cap rippled and engulfed the seed, casting off the fluff.

  2. Tetrarch Q'rin hovered over the scene, dutifully noting the occurrence in her journal.

  3. Soon it would be time to face her new husband.

  4. She did not know how the arranged marriage would work, she being a scientist, and he being a royal bureaucrat, although she had an empirically based estimation...and a bad feeling.

  5. She sighed, turning to go, but saw the mushroom twitch.