Monday, 7 May 2012

How I Write - Using Imagery

Hello! Before I start this post properly, I just want to let you know of an amazing giveaway on at Perfectly Sensible Nonsense. You can get an fantastic book on writing! I've entered, and I hope you do to. This is seriously to good to miss!

Anyway, now that that's over and done with, let's talk about imagery. You know...the stuff that makes writing pop.

Imagery. I'm sure at some point in our lives we've heard of this, be it at school, or on another blog, or at school (schools go crazy for this stuff, I swear, I've been taught it about twenty times already) Imagery is what it sounds like - it is a series of words tat put an image in out heads. Examples of imagery can be -

Metaphor -  Her eyes were pools of silver and gold, beauty in the highest form (comparing something without using 'like' or 'as')
Simile - Her hair was like a waterfall (comparing something using 'like' or 'as')
Personification - The wind roared (giving human qualities to non-human things)

There are quite a few others, but these are the most basic and they are generally the most used. Using imagery makes your writing stand out, but like all good things, you must take it in small doses. For example, this would not be a very good descriptive paragraph -

The sand was like gold and the waves lapping up against it were as powerful as a cannon. They rose and fell like huge horses and the wind roared and screeched behind them, an angry man. The girl stood and watched them. Her eyes were fluid pools of light and her hair was a golden waterfall, cascading down her shoulders. Her arms were skinny as twigs and her legs were covered with scratches, like a cat scratching post. The trees whispered behind her, their green leaves like emeralds in the orange sun...

Too much? Yeah. I think so. The secret is not to put to much imagery in one paragraph, in one story. Too many and it seems overboard, and there are too many comparisons for the reader to make. Their heads are filled with images of cannons and gold and horses and waterfalls, and they can't concentrate on the actual story. 

You also don't want to complicate matters when using imagery. The two things your comparing have to make sense -

The boy's hair was like a kettle's whistle.

Now, I'm not suggesting in any way that anyone would ever make such a comparison, but you have to make sure when you're writing that you are making good comparisons, ones that make sense. For the one above, you could change hair to laugh and the sentence would make much more sense. The reader is getting the sound of screeching whistle and comparing it to the boy's laugh. So, we are getting the idea that the boy had a loud, high pitched, rather unpleasant laugh. 

Finally, when using imagery, don't be too long winded. I do this sometimes, and I often have to go and change it in the second draft -

The waves were huge, powerful horses, their hooves hitting the sand, sending showers of golden flecks upwards into the skies, their manes the white foam, their nostrils flared, tiny water droplets forming their eyelashes and the minuscule algae and sea creatures making up the golden irises...

Firstly, that is a run on sentence - a big no no unless you are using to illustrate a long journey or something like that. Secondly, most of that sentence could go, leaving just the first part eg. the actual metaphor. The reader stills see the waves as horses, and you don't have to put in all that pointless detail!

There you go - an introduction to using imagery. I hope you liked my terrible examples :D It took me forever to make them up!


Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for mentioning my giveaway, I appreciate it!

I remember when I first learned about those imagery techniques in school: I learned about similes, metaphors, personification and hyperboles all at once, and I can still remember exactly what each one is in a split second. :)

As for imagery in writing, I totally agree. Less is more! Imagery is good, but in moderation. Like pepper on food - a little bit can spice things up, but too much and you just burn your tongue. :)

Hehe, I think I just inadvertently made a simile. xD

Also, love your hyperbolic examples! Great job! ;)

Ebony Black Lines said...

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Ebony Black Lines said...

I was just wondering. How do you havw the links for your stories on your 'me' page? Where ae the stoies actually posted? x