Sensory overload: what Cirque du Soleil can teach us writers.

So last night, for the fourth of July, my wife and I went and saw Cirque du Soleil’s ‘O’ at the Bellagio in Las Vegas.


What an incredible show. And hour and a half of the best acrobats, swimmers, and contortionists you’ve ever seen. Truly, it was a visually stunning thing to see.

But this turned out to be a double-edged sword.


Because at times there was so much going on and so many performers on stage that it was impossible to keep track of them all! Sure, a lot of them were there for ambience or as accoutrements to fill the space on the massive stage, but none of them were ever really idle, and basically deserved to be looked at. I felt kind of guilty sometimes not being able to watch everything all the time.

Cirque is known for having the best people, and they try to show them off at every opportunity, but sometimes that can distract from the main thrust of what they are trying to do.

By trying to give the audience so much, is is possible that they are not giving them everything?

As writers, aren’t we often guilty of the same thing? Don’t we sometimes put to much into our works that might be “cool” or “clever,” but that in reality doesn’t add much to the overall thrust of the work? Sub-plots that mean nothing, foreshadowing of things that never take place, or characters that aren’t really necessary can all distract the writer from our message.

That’s why I like to write the “story” first, and then add to the world and characters until I feel that I have reached so of sort of balance. I guess I would rather be told to add more of this or that than be told to cut something that I have already written that I might just love, but which isn’t needed.

Does anyone else feel this way?

Or is it just me?

One thought on “Sensory overload: what Cirque du Soleil can teach us writers.

  1. Really great comparison. I sometimes think of extra stuff to add to my story that upon eiting may be seen as surplus, but I generally try not to let it dictate the story. Story is everything, what follows can only be positive or negative to its telling.


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