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LJD
09-21-2012, 04:21 AM
When you picture a scene as you're reading it (and IF you do - I realize not everyone does), how do you fill in the blanks?

For example, say a scene is taking place in a living room in a suburban home. The room has a couch and a bay window - you do not know much else. How fleshed out might this image be in your mind, and where do you take those details from? Do you picture the living room of your home, with alterations based on the author's description?

For me, it's frequently my childhood home. Which means that the living room in the scene above would have a piano (unless this would be totally inappropriate for whoever owns the house) and lots of plants and an old, dark brown coffee table. Occasionally I use my grandparents' home (a similar size) as a base - it's not conscious. I have no idea why. Perhaps because the layout the author describes sounds more similar to their house? Or, if it's in a high rise, my apartment. Unles it's the penthouse suite. Then my imagination fills in the gaps based what I've seen in movies or in magazines.

What about you?

Siri Kirpal
09-21-2012, 05:42 AM
Sat Nam! (literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

It usually just comes to me. And if it doesn't, I don't try to fill in the blanks. I do have an interest in architecture, and prefer novels with strong architectural bones. They're much easier to visualize.

Blessings,

Siri Kirpal

LadyV
09-21-2012, 06:50 AM
I'm a very visually-oriented person, so scenes come rather easily to me. I wish I could explain how it happens, but I can't. They just appear like a snap shot. Sometimes they're complete, other times there might be some blank spots.

Shadow_Ferret
09-21-2012, 07:10 AM
Depends. Is the couch and bay window part of the story? Then I write them in. Otherwise, have you ever seen an episode of "Lost in Space" where Will and the Robot are on an alien spaceship and all you see is darkness, with a computer terminal here, a control panel there, and some shiny tinsel hanging from the ceiling? That's how I visualize a room. I only see what is being used by the characters at the time and everything else is darkness.

Kerosene
09-21-2012, 08:03 AM
For me:

Focal point is the characters and their immediate surroundings.

"Bill and Sally sat across from each others at the dining room table."

Everything outside of that is either blurred.

"The walls surrounding them were sheet metal, rusted through from the years of heavy rains."

Any farther is blocked out.

Like a camera with a focal point.


I guess it means I focus more on character, than the world. Anything outside of character immediacies is left to a ambiance. I'll feel the wet forest, but not care about it.

I don't use "stock sets" like my known world and such. Buildings and room just grow from the description, or otherwise appears blank.

Dryad
09-21-2012, 11:43 AM
While I'm not focusing on all of the exterior details, I do see them clearly and they don't come from any real places in my life. Every character's living room looks different. My visualization method has made me feel very confident in leaving out a great deal of non-essential description. I feel the reader will get the picture without it. In fact, I recently picked up a favorite childhood novel and was aghast at the sparsity of description in it in comparison to the rich complexity I remembered. It seems that a good portion of the story's world I had inserted myself. Nothing wrong with that. I still love that book.

ElsaM
09-21-2012, 12:43 PM
I'm not very visual, to be honest. I come up with impressions more than full images - just a couple of details. So I'd picture (sort of) sunlight and cheerful colours and a couch, which is probably influenced by the last time I saw a bay window, but it's all so vague I couldn't tell you for sure.

Linda Adams
09-21-2012, 02:12 PM
I don't picture scenes. Rather, I get an impression of them. So the writer needs to build the scene for me with description or it's going to fall a little flat for me.

leahzero
09-21-2012, 04:27 PM
I'm like LadyV. An image will just snap into my head, and is generally fairly complete. It's based on lots of things--my memories of real places, memories of fictitious visuals from movies/games/art, my own inner painter who paints based on mood and tone and details in the book, etc.

But I very rarely use a real life memory in an identifiable way. It just doesn't seem to want to happen. My brain tries to keep memories of real life things separate, especially if they were important to me, like a home I lived in. At most, a tiny detail or two will be used.

scarecrow
09-21-2012, 06:56 PM
I'm like LadyV. An image will just snap into my head, and is generally fairly complete. It's based on lots of things--my memories of real places, memories of fictitious visuals from movies/games/art, my own inner painter who paints based on mood and tone and details in the book, etc.

But I very rarely use a real life memory in an identifiable way. It just doesn't seem to want to happen. My brain tries to keep memories of real life things separate, especially if they were important to me, like a home I lived in. At most, a tiny detail or two will be used.

Well stated. I imagine the room in the same way but I do use real life memories to fill in the blanks. I usually use places I've been that don't mean as much to me like a friend's home, or a place I visited once. I have studied architecture and traveled widely so I have a lot of unattached memories to draw from.

Scribhneoir
09-21-2012, 07:50 PM
An image will just snap into my head, and is generally fairly complete.

Same here. The scene is so complete in my head that I often find myself neglecting to describe it at all in my writing, which is an area I'm working on improving. When reading, all I need is a mere skeleton of a description and my mind immediately adds all the details and complexities for a fully rounded setting.

Elijah Sydney
09-21-2012, 07:57 PM
I recently picked up a favorite childhood novel and was aghast at the sparsity of description in it in comparison to the rich complexity I remembered. It seems that a good portion of the story's world I had inserted myself.

Interesting. I'm not a particularly visual person, but I've had similar experiences -- books that seemed to conjure incredibly vivid images but when I'd go back to see how the author did it, I'd find hardly any description at all. I think some authors have the ability to create a kind of magic that sets your imagination in motion.

Goldenleaves
09-21-2012, 08:00 PM
have you ever seen an episode of "Lost in Space" where Will and the Robot are on an alien spaceship and all you see is darkness, with a computer terminal here, a control panel there, and some shiny tinsel hanging from the ceiling? That's how I visualize a room. I only see what is being used by the characters at the time and everything else is darkness.

That's how I see life.

ishtar'sgate
09-21-2012, 08:45 PM
When you picture a scene as you're reading it (and IF you do - I realize not everyone does), how do you fill in the blanks?

For example, say a scene is taking place in a living room in a suburban home. The room has a couch and a bay window - you do not know much else. How fleshed out might this image be in your mind, and where do you take those details from? Do you picture the living room of your home, with alterations based on the author's description?



Interesting question. From that small a description I don't see much at all really and if I do it will likely be something I've seen recently in a magazine. I read a lot of stuff on interior design, though, so that's probably why.

Jamesaritchie
09-21-2012, 09:02 PM
When you picture a scene as you're reading it (and IF you do - I realize not everyone does), how do you fill in the blanks?


Well, I try not to use movies or magazines, though I probably do subconsciously. For me, the first rule of really good description is putting in any detail the character would notice, and leaving out any details the character would not notice.

If you walk into a strange room for the first time, some things will be worth noticing and remembering, other things will not be worth noticing or remembering. It comes down to what stands out, and what doesn't.

Who the character is, where the character is, and why the character is there determines what he notices, and what he doesn't. A character going into a room where he sits down and waits to meet someone who will interview him for a job is going to notice different details than a character who runs into that same room because he's being chased by a zombie.

A character who goes into a room he already knows very well is not going to notice anything except whatever it is that took him into that room. You don't walk into your own kitchen for a knife to open a package that just arrived, and then give an description of everything in that kitchen.

But if you walk into a kitchen you've never been in after a knife, you'll have to notice more things in an effort to find the knife.

Lissibith
09-21-2012, 09:11 PM
I'm another where the scene just sort of creates itself in my head, even without the details. It's usually culled from some archtype based on the story I'm reading - for instance, I read a lot of fantasy, so I have a certain mental image of what a throne room is gonna look like and unless told otherwise, they just all sort of take place in that archtypal throne room. Same for space ship corridors, rooms in regular homes, restaurants, etc.

dangerousbill
09-21-2012, 09:42 PM
For example, say a scene is taking place in a living room in a suburban home. The room has a couch and a bay window - you do not know much else.


From this alone, I built a complete image of the room. It's one I've never been in before. Just include any details that are germane to the action that will occur there, and I'll do the rest.

(But you better put a door in it, quick. I'm getting claustrophobic.)

LJD
09-22-2012, 05:08 AM
thanks for all the interesting responses!



Depends. Is the couch and bay window part of the story? Then I write them in. Otherwise, have you ever seen an episode of "Lost in Space" where Will and the Robot are on an alien spaceship and all you see is darkness, with a computer terminal here, a control panel there, and some shiny tinsel hanging from the ceiling? That's how I visualize a room. I only see what is being used by the characters at the time and everything else is darkness.

lol, I haven't even heard of that TV show. (upon looking it up, I realize I'm probably to young.)

It's a bit like this for me, but the rest of the room isn't darkness, but a slightly fuzzy version of a place familiar to me. I didn't notice that it was usually my childhood home until I started paying attention.

It's incredible to me how people can build a complete image of a room from very few details.

I don't feel like I'm missing out; it's just not as important to me.

strictlytopsecret
09-22-2012, 06:04 AM
If the book I'm reading is engrossing, for me, I "see" the whole scene as if I'm there watching the action as it takes place. I stop seeing words (or at least my perception of reading words), and start experiencing the story on a very visual level. It's as if I am right there with the characters, in scene. The details are quite clear. From whence those details came, I could not say. I assume they are in part from the text, in part from past experience, and part pure imagination.

I'm always interested in seeing movie adaptations of books I've already read, b/c I love to see if the movie my mind created matches the movie created by directors/producers/actors.

I've always been curious if my experience of reading was common. Sounds like it is.

~STS~

Susan Littlefield
09-22-2012, 07:24 AM
When I'm reading, I tend to feel like I am part of a story and tend to see what the viewpoint character is seeing. I don't really fill in any blanks to see a bigger picture, because only what the viewpoint sees, feels, hears, etc. is all I care about.

When I'm writing a scene, I tend to see the entire place with furniture in my mind's eye, but I only put what is important to that character onto paper. I don't just include the visual, but smells, sounds, etc.

circuscandy
09-22-2012, 02:25 PM
I am incredibly visual. An author could mention only one thing in the room and I might be able to build an entire mansion around it. (Probably) because I'm an illustrator, too, when I write I see everything and know everything about a place or a room. Do I type it all out? No. But there are scenes where I love to create details that might make Normal Rockwell proud. Not just visuals, of course, but the whole five sense package. Imagery was one of my favorite things to tackle when I was young and it hasn't really left me.

heyjude
09-22-2012, 03:11 PM
While I'm reading, I don't tend to picture more than a vague here-they-are blurry picture in my mind. I don't care much about the scene unless it's absolutely integral.

Writing is different. I have to have a clear picture in my head so that I can convey it.

Theundergroundauthor
09-22-2012, 03:14 PM
I only notice details as they're given and the rest is sort of a blurry grey mist and it all swirls around as the action takes place!

iron9567
09-22-2012, 06:55 PM
I look at scenes the same as I do both reading and writing. I prefer just enough detail to allow the reader to form their own image in their mind. I think this allows them to get caught up in the story more. When I write however I have to have create the whole scene all the way down to the physial impact it gives a person when they enter the room based on their experence with the room. I like to image myself in the characters shoes and try to see it how they would based on how I have the charater created.
Thanks
the iron man