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View Full Version : Can it help with imagery?


KarlaErikaCal
02-25-2008, 05:43 AM
I was wondering if by trying to use words to recreate the pictures you see in photography books or what else you can grab your hands on, can help create better imagery. I haven't tried it out yet, but what do you think?

Eldritch
02-25-2008, 06:03 AM
I took a poetry class in college and it really opened my eyes to imagery. Poetry forces you to think outside the box when choosing your descriptive words.

WildScribe
02-25-2008, 06:06 AM
It could help, but it really depends on you. The true test is to try it out (it really doesn't take that long to do) and see if you feel like it helps you.

I agree that a poetry class could really help you choose the perfect words. Good luck. :)

kzmiller
02-25-2008, 07:10 AM
If this idea has captured your imagination I say go for it. I think it's essential to get outside of your normal place and routine from time to time. Writing daily in my office on WIPs is all fine and good, but after a point I have to write in a different way in a different place to freshen things up. Personally writing to capture an image sounds like a fabulous plan and I intend to give it a try a little later. Thanks for sharing!

lostlore
02-25-2008, 07:15 PM
Try it and see, and posts the results here.

If you wanted to try with a random web image, and have a group experiment as a writing exercise, I'd be willing to take part.

I'm also very interested in the general discussion of imagery in prose and how to create it. I believe that the big secret to vividry in prose is metaphor. Finding new, fresh metaphors -- good ones that show precisely what you see -- is the main task, I think.

RJK
02-25-2008, 08:13 PM
I'm having that problem right now in my WIP, trying to describe the experience of standing next to Niagara Falls. If you've been there you know what I mean, If you haven't, I can only say, it's an experience that will live with you for a very long time.

Andrhia
02-25-2008, 08:21 PM
It certainly can't hurt, and it might help you by solidifying in your head what it is you're trying to convey.

I'd just nudge you to remember to include non-visual senses in your imagery. Writing about a photograph makes it easier to forget about sounds and scents and touch, all of which play a role in powerful imagery.

JustGo
02-25-2008, 08:38 PM
As Andrhia said, remember the other senses, but it is very helpful. I recently did this for a fiction class I'm taking - we each described a postcard, then had our descriptions randomly redistributed throughout the classroom. Then when we received each others' descriptions, we would first draw it based on the image we imagined, then attempt to figure out which postcard went with the description, comparing it to the picture we'd drawn. It was very interesting to see what parts got across to the reader, and which ones did not - you may want to give this a try yourself, after you write a few of the descriptions.

Jenan Mac
02-25-2008, 09:20 PM
I'm having that problem right now in my WIP, trying to describe the experience of standing next to Niagara Falls. If you've been there you know what I mean, If you haven't, I can only say, it's an experience that will live with you for a very long time.


When you're trying to describe something big, it helps to go small. The sting of spray on your skin, the chatter of the old ladies next to you at the rail, the smell of...whatever. I'm probably not much help since I've never actually been there.

KarlaErikaCal
02-26-2008, 02:00 AM
Okay I got one: this is off the internet, so click on the link if ya want.

http://www.mogabu.com/graphics/backgrounds/11/ChicagoNighttimeSkyline09.jpg

I watched from the stern of The Odyssey the indescribable view of the city of Chicago. The wind was chilly, but it was worth the bitter coldness, just watching the city lights against the darkening sky. The purples and blues of the sky accented the beauty of the Windy City. I could hear the waves lapping against the boat, but the noise from inside the ship drowned it out. The first scent of food awakened my hunger, and I tore myself away from the view and walked back inside.

That was the best I could get from it. And I remembered the four other senses. I left out touch though, but oh well.

Any others want to give that picture or something else a try?

Shweta
02-26-2008, 04:50 AM
Different but related:
Something I do sometimes is squeeze my eyes shut and try to imagine my scenarios without words at all. Have a real 3-d sense of what's where, what the sounds and smells are, what the texture is against the POV character's body. Only then do I describe it.

I think this is related in that it becomes like describing a picture, and might be tapping into the same concepts.

Chasing the Horizon
02-26-2008, 09:12 AM
I learned almost everything I know about imagery by writing poetry. The whole point of poetry (to me, at least) is to evoke vivid atmosphere and emotion with very few words, so it's a great exercise for doing the same thing in novels. Just make sure you don't go overboard on the metaphors and imagery in your book, though, lest your prose begin to take on a purplish hue. I mainly save the vivid imagery for when I have something highly dramatic and important going on.

Describing a photograph wouldn't be much of an exercise for me, because I already see every moment of my scenes even more vividly than any image.

lostlore
02-26-2008, 07:16 PM
Any others want to give that picture or something else a try?


Ok, I promised, so...

. . .

Riley
02-26-2008, 07:26 PM
Has anyone started a game for this imagery exercise? Might be a good idea. . .

I very often do what you're describing, KC. I don't usually use pictures. I use actual things and try to describe them in my mind. For example, when watching my dog: "She bounded for the door, her sickle tail streaming behind her. Her tongue lolled from the side of her stubby snout. She veered, then ran up the stairs past her [me]." It's kind of weird thinking in third person!

It's an interesting exercise, perfect for when you're stuck, I think. But unlike many people (I suspect,) I didn't learn much imagery from poetry although it did force me to "think outside the box". I learned most of my imagery from reading classics.