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Name of the Game: Synesthesia

This game is best played once writers have drafted a text that rich and lengthy enough for review.

Adapted from a Gamestorming game by the same name (say that three times fast), this game challenges writers to examine character, plot, setting, theme, or any other element of a selected piece through their senses, enabling a more somatic experience of the text. The intent is to surface new insights and untapped perspectives that add dimension by thinking and talking about texts using uncommon contexts and frames.

Number of Players:
6 per team

Duration of the Game:
Two rounds of play completed in 15-40 minutes

Materials Needed:
Prior to beginning, one player should volunteer a 1-3 page text for review and provide copies to all members of the team. Alternatively, a lengthier text may be shared prior to game play, providing team members enough time to read the entire passage. The writer must also select one element of the text for the team to play with. Options may include (but are not limited to): character, plot, setting, or theme. The player under review may choose to use a device to capture the conversation that unfolds, or notes may be taken.

How to Play:

1. The game begins as the writer under review distributes copies of his or her piece.

2. Each team member is challenged to interpret the piece using at least two of the five senses: sight, sound, taste, smell, or touch. Examples may be provided, as needed:

• “You create a warm, soft setting in this first chapter. I’m wondering how your character, who seems kind of cold and hard will fit in here.”
• “Your message is loud and heavy. Was this your plan?”
• “The setting is sharp, and you weave in details about her home with a light, crisp approach. I’m wondering if you can do the same thing when you describe her school. That description feels kind of thick and muddy. It slows me down as a reader when I’m eager to move forward.”
• “This line of dialogue smells like cotton candy. You do a good job of portraying how shallow the speaker is here. How could you shape the dialogue differently for this other character who seems genuine almost to a fault?”

3. Team members read the piece if it wasn’t read previously, and they take a few minutes to quietly prepare their interpretation.

4. Play moves in rounds, with one team member sharing just one idea at a time until all are exhausted. The writer under review may record the conversation using a device or capture notes.



  1. I swear I’m not stalking. LOL I just love your ideas! Would you use this for personal narrative too? Or more for creative writing only?

    • Absolutely! The process is called affinity mapping, and it scales, Amy. You can use it in diverse contexts, wherever idea generation and organization is needed.

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