Made in America

Imagery In Writing

Think of yourself as a photographer with your camera in hand, ready to take a picture and capture the moment. As an author, you’re aiming for the same goal, but with your words and creativity rather than a camera.

Think of your story as a photo album: a collection of scenes that are so vivid that they come to life in the minds of your readers.

Imagery is a literary device that will help you create powerful and meaningful descriptions that resonate in the minds of your readers. The primary goal when using imagery is to make your words come to life much like a photograph captures a moment. Essentially, imagery creates the scene and context that helps connect the dots.

A rule of thumb when writing is to never stop mid-story to explain or describe something. You want your descriptions to be fluid and natural. Keep the flow of your story moving in the right direction and subtly infuse imagery into the gaps that you’ve created.

One way to think of imagery is like the lens of a camera. What are you going to focus on? What will be the center of attention for a specific scene? Will you focus on one thing in particular? In a photograph there’s a background that helps contextualize what you’re seeing. Translate this idea into your writing. Don’t just stop with the basics; expand and bring in the surroundings to give your readers a holistic idea of what’s going on.

The five senses will be your best friends. Smell, taste, see, hear and touch – use all five to make your writing come to life. Let’s say that your character walks into a café, purchases a scone and takes a seat. That’s not exactly interesting, right?

But, what if you described that scene in a little more detail? “The café was packed with people—some deep in conversation, others ensconced in the screens of their phones. The espresso machine hissed and the air was filled with the rich aroma of brewed coffee as she made her way to the front of the store. Finally, she ordered her scone and spotted a bistro table tucked away in the corner of the café.”

In this example, you can clearly envision what’s going on in the café at that time by engaging the senses. Remember that your readers are human beings, so you want to activate all five of their senses to really transport them into the pages of your book.

Imagine yourself, camera in hand, as you write your book, and let your creativity and imagination capture the moment, much like a photograph.

Copyright Dorrance Publishing, 2017

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