I was reading Naked, Drunk and Writing by Adair Lara yesterday. She sees images as a necessity for effective writing. She explained the whys and wherefores of images in writing. She explained it in a similar way that I have heard the writing adage, "Don't Tell, Show."
She writes, "We want experience, not information. 'Joan is distressed' is information. 'Joan looked away,' is an image."
I nodded along, pondering the way to add images and metaphors, how to pluck ripe Spring strawberries from the writing vine. I said to myself, “Yes, I must pay attention to images!”
Today when I started writing I promptly forgot about images until I saw this Denise Levertov quote:
split the truth
Images quietly and succinctly lead readers closer to understanding, viscerally, what is happening rather than just receiving information and facts about what is happening. Facts and information are helpful, yes, but facts plus an image written with care brings writing alive.
Did you notice how I slipped an image into the words in the first paragraph?
I wrote “ripe Spring strawberries on the writing vine.”
Can’t you see that image? Chubby strawberries oozing with juice, just ready for the plucking off the vine and then enjoying the mouth-watering tartness as we pop it into our mouths and start to chew.
Because I create mixed media art pieces using words, I also picture these ripe Summer strawberries with words and phrases on them. I can deepen that image by plucking the strawberry and tasting a particular word intermingled with the marvelous freshly picked strawberry tanginess that fills my mouth when I bite down with my eyes closed, prepared for the wonder which will soon overcome me as the sun shines on my face, a soft wind blowing.
Have I landed in word-heaven?
To write using effective images, you may want to practice.
Look at some of your writing from the past and scan for words that may benefit from the use of an image.
Here is a quote from my blog post of yesterday:
“It may be because my depression has reared its head and one of the ways I motivate myself is “give voice to those who aren’t able to speak for themselves” and “There are women writers who wrote despite their depression.”
We will focus on depression, here I said “reared its head” which is, perhaps, an overused image.
What are some other ways we could make “depression” into an image?
Here are a couple ideas I have and please, when you are done reading – think of several of your own before we move along.
Sludgy: slow moving, sticky, getting stuck on the soles of my shoes, making it difficult to walk.
Blankness: without any words that usually describe me, depression is without heartbeat, without breath, without emotion and unfortunately, it seems to also be devoid of passion. It all evaporates. My trademark laughter is subdued into silence. My curiosity stays tucked into my throat. "I wonder about..." flits across my eyes and forehead, but I don't speak a word. Sometimes I am concerned these "words that usuall describe me will never return. The depression says, “Eh, its only your life as you know it.”
I could have just said, "Depression is horrible" which really says nothing.
Sleepy: A toddler, waits in her too small crib wearing footie pajamas at the naptime her mother decides she needs. Now little Anna can never seem to shut her eyes even though she feels drained of energy. She longs to be with the others, but her only view is the bars on her crib casting a shadow across her face.
Now think of some of your own ideas.
Next, pick up a piece of writing you have done recently and create some images. Open a document and plunk them inside it.
When you are done, choose one of those images and write that image into a brand new piece of writing.
Like anything else, using images takes practice. Don’t ever be disheartened. Don’t ever walk away while there is still time on the clock. Stay in the game. Move your pencil. Create.
Show your reader what is projected in your minds eye. Use all your senses to bring those images to life.
You can do it!
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Julie Jordan Scott
This is post 30 of 31 in October for the Ultimate Blog Challenge ~