So you want to perfectly communicate to your audience that image in your mind’s eye, right? Get it out of your mind, and let it flow down through your fingertips and into your keys. Writing a description with such vividness can be a daunting task contributing to the writer's block epidemic that's ravaging the fiction writer world as we speak. Often, what stares back at us from the computer screen is either blank or not quite right. And unfortunately, we can't crumble up a computer and throw it in the trash with a satisfactory swish. Because well, it would crunch and not swish and unfortunately we still need our computer. The good news is there are some simple ways to help you use that beautiful writer imagination of yours. Because really, the last thing your reader wants to venture into is the deep abyss of dull imagery translation. Not to mention, it's just not enjoyable to write that way. There is something missing amidst all this brain chatter and it all boils down to one very important fiction writing tip.
Imagery is the language that poets, novelists and a slew of other writers use to create moving images in the mind of the reader. An easy way to fully capture your reader’s attention is to write so vividly they feel as though they are waltzing right on through the story, right beside the characters. One of the greatest example I have of this is Water for Elephants, by Sara Gruen. That book made me feel so dirty I had an illogical obsession with showers every time I finished reading a chunk. Everything in the book is covered in dust, soot, and grease. Train cars are full of stuffy velvet I can almost smell. Heat from their oil lamps made my nose feel dry. That's how unbelievably vivid that book is. Writing with that intensity ought to be every fiction writers goal. With out this ferocity, even the most thrilling or compelling plot will fall flat on its back. Like a turtle. Or a flopping fish. There are many different splits, junctures, and hairpin bends in the road that make up the schema of imagery.
Captivate Your Audience
First of all, attempt to capture each and every sense for your reader to pickup on. Focus on what the character would notice and run with it. Using specific details is an absolute must. Crafting specific details in your writing will help to sort of steer your reader’s imagination in the direction that you imagined it. Leaving too much for the reader to imagine sets your book up for failure because it presents a whole list of miscommunication and then mistrust between you and the reader. ( I think I'll do a blog on that coming up because it is soooo important.) While using specific details is the best way to get your point across, you want to steer clear of over using them. It is essential to use the right details, not the most. Choose your words carefully and intentionally. Nothing drives me nuts more than lazy words (said, very, really etc. See here for my list of Words to Watch)
Metaphors, which are the direct comparison of two distinct things. For example; His voice was thunder. If you used "like" or "as" its a Simile which is also a powerful tool.
Onomatopoeia, a form of auditory imagery in which the word used sounds like the thing it describes. As in, the child slurped on the tip of the straw. Or thunder boomed outside my window.
Personification, the way of providing animals and objects with human-like characteristics. The alarm clock’s scream was agonizing.
These are all subcategories inside figurative language. Before you roll your eyes and block me out like you did your 8th grade English teacher, figurative languages gives everything texture and layers. More than saying its green, say its the color of a pasture in mid-May. It gives a more detailed picture of exactly what green you're talking about. Learning to sprinkle these into your writing and sift it throughout the piece will help you captivate your audience. Figurative language also assists in adding personality to your paragraphs. Learn to connect your words to unexpected objects or conceptions. It always amazes me when I stumble across an author with a knack for twisting things on its head. Throw in some original metaphors! This will help you create those vivid images and will gift your writing with a distinctive style, both of which are important to have.
Keep in mind, great imagery can be shown in just few words! I'll never forget how hard it was to read Gone With the Wind because I felt like I spent 2 pages learning the color of the grass. It was exhausting! (not knockin' it if you like it. It is a classic after all, Just a little long-winded). Most audiences want a fast-paced read. The days of long drawn out anything are over. Focus in on what you see in your mind and use the most specific words, descriptions, and figurative language to portray it. Don’t overdo it. And above all, remember why you're writing.
(More on this to come? We could go into a continuous, nearly never ending amount of different discussion inside of this! Just food for thought…)