For my entries in the 2012 A to Z Challenge, I will be focusing on writing elements that I find important and that I want to incorporate into my work.
Today, the topic is IMAGERY.
Fiction transports a reader to a world which exists only in the author's mind. But when it works best, fiction actually goes beyond that and allows the reader to create their OWN world and connect to it in an emotionally meaningful way.
To have that level of impact, the reader has to be able to immerse themselves into the world. It is up to the writer to give the reader the ability to do that. This is where imagery comes in.
Imagery is much more than simply dry description. If I'm setting a scene in a room, I might be tempted to say, "The room was 19 feet, 6 inches by 15 feet. The walls were painted in a pale beige color. The room had two windows. The one on the north wall was 24 inches above the floor and measured 36 inches by 72 inches. Blah, blah, blah..."
This boring description might accurately describe the room, but what emotional impact does it have?
Zilch. Nada. None.
There is nothing that pulls the reader into the room and makes them connect to it. To do this, I need to do more than simply describe the room -- I need to appeal to the senses. I need to provide mental images that really allow the reader to "see" the room at a deeper level. So I also might want to mention smells, sounds, the room temperature, and other aspects that elicit an emotional response.
Not only do I need to describe things in an emotionally-compelling way that appeals to all the senses, I also have to be selective in choosing what to describe. This is where we begin to shift from description to imagery. Take that window in my earlier example. Why even mention it if it adds nothing to the story? In most cases, it makes more sense to leave it out.
But what if the character in the room is someone who feels lonely -- distant and separated from people? Then I may actually want to include the window to highlight that sense of him 'looking out' on the rest of the world. But I'm sure not going to mention the dimensions. Instead I might describe the window as "painted shut," "grimy," "airtight," mention how it muffles the sounds from the street below, or use other images that echo the character's isolation.
If I do it right, that simple window then becomes much more than just a random item in the room -- it becomes an image which reveals a deeper understanding of the character.
This is the type of imagery I need to use to transport my reader into that fictional world I'm trying to create.
Huh--- Maybe there's a reason that "imagery" and "imagination" are related words... ;^)
Thanks for visiting -- see you the rest of this month for more alphabetical fun!
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