Recently, I’ve walked a few full novel editing clients through the use of imagery in writing. I decided to write a post about it because there seems to be some confusion about what imagery in description is, when to use it, and why you’d want to in the first place. I have an MFA in Creative Writing, and as you can imagine, us Creative Writing MFAs spend a lot of time sitting around in coffee houses, thinking about the building blocks of the fiction craft. I’d argue that, here, there is no need for an image.
) Well, one of those important building blocks is imagery in description. An image is a description that is meant to evoke emotion. Because we all know that the number one thing a fiction writer must do is make the reader care. Imagery in writing serves to deepen the reader’s understanding of what’s going on and how to feel about it. Here’s a good example of imagery used incorrectly: to our understanding that he’s hungry? It’s restating the information and there’s no sense of depth or enhancement.
It introduces the idea of a specific emotion that’s playing out inside him, and adds the layer of how deeply it affects him.
Regret is like a predator, and he feels like prey–vulnerable, exposed.
This is an emotional moment, and the image spins it in a more visceral direction. But it’s a good example of where an image might be desirable, if you’re the type to add embellishments to your significant and emotional moments.
The alternative would be: This has a lot of the same information, but it might be a little dry. Another thing to consider is how much imagery to use.I’m happy to help troubleshoot your manuscript in regards to these important concepts.Hire me as your novel editor, and we’ll dive in together!the writer must be confident enough in his or her own imaging ability to stop when it's time to stop, because as we all know, the joy of reading novels, which no movie can equal, is the joy of seeing in the mind, feeling the fantasy flower in the way that is unique to each individual reader. In my creative writing class, we begin the semester-long class with an exercise that helps students find the right words to convey to their readers the sensory details that bring the story alive. First, it describes using sensory language, and second, it evokes strong feelings in the reader. A big mistake I see in manuscripts is that writers use imagery when it really isn’t necessary. A lot of writers believe that an image is necessary for every situation. My preference would be that you use imagery in books more sparingly. So that brings up the question of when to use imagery in description.Just think, there are millions of slightly alternate Hogwarts Castles crafted in the minds of readers around the globe, and that’s kind of beautiful.Because imagery, as Stephen King says, ‘occurs in the reader’s mind’ it’s important to realise that your job as a writer is not to tell the reader exactly what to see down to the smallest detail.If you’ve gotten the feedback that your imagery in writing and that it can sometimes slant toward cliché, really think about it and maybe pick the third or fourth image that comes to mind.You want to make sure you’re being evocative and Struggling with voice, description, and imagery in description?