Writing Tips: Imagery

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July 15, 2013 by thefreshchuff


If your imagery always ends up sounding as if someone is just telling the reader what’s going on, think about these tips:

– Use literary devices.

This just might end up being the easiest way to enhance your writing. Make sure you are familiar with literary devices, including: alliteration, metaphors, similes, foreshadowing, personification, etc. Incorporate them in your writing.  Just don’t say: “Flowers stood in the meadow.” Say “The flowers filled the meadow, making the vast plain appear as if it was Van Gogh’s painting palette.” Some literary devices could affect the flow or mood of your imagery, like alliteration. Others will subtly add depth to your book as a whole such as foreshadowing. The literary devices most commonly used to make imagery interesting and vivid are the ones such as metaphors, similes, and personification.

-Avoid cliches.

Cliches are used because they are convenient. If you are stuck on a character design, plot, or imagery, it’s much easier to write something that’s already done than take the time to figure out something completely new. Be creative. Don’t say, “She was on cloud nine.” Say, “She smiled and squealed louder than a piglet getting food.” The more original or obscure your imagery is, the more impact your imagery will have. 

-Avoid using too many adverbs.

Adverbs rarely add imagery, because they tend to only state or explain what something is doing. In other words, they don’t describe the scene. While one or two is fine on occasion, if you overuse adverbs, your piece will seem very boring. If you try to write a piece without adverbs, you will most likely realize that your piece will not only have more imagery, but will be longer too. This is because you had to add more details than just writing one word. 

– Use all five senses to portray a scene, not just one.

While showing what someplace looks like is often important, sight is not the only sense humans have. In fact, sight isn’t even the sense humans tend to remember most vividly (that award goes to smell). Imagery will hold more interest if you also describe what something smells, sounds, feels, or even tastes like. For example, the city may be full of skyscrapers, cars, and people, but what else do you remember about it? The stench coming off someone sleeping in a tattered jacket by the subway? The crying of a child who’s tired of walking? What does the chili cheese dog that the business man is eating taste like? 

Don’t overdo it.

While run-on sentences can be used for imagery purposes, don’t make every sentence you write one, as it can ruin impact and bore your reader after a while. Also keep in mind that if you are still describing what the outside of someone’s house looks like and you’re on page three, maybe it would be a good time to cut back on the scenery. After all, too much of a good thing can often be just as worse as too little. Find a balance between the two extremes. 


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