A picture is worth a thousand words…

Studies show that broccoli may help in the pre...
Image via Wikipedia

That’s true for ‘word pictures’, too.

You know when you read a passage that seems to jump off the page, evoking an image that is so strong that when you talk about that scene with someone else, they describe it almost exactly the way you saw it in your mind’s eye?

Yeah, well, like that.

We all want to be able to write vivid prose that leaves an undeniable image seared on the reader’s brain.

The fifth piece of writing advice in the Writer’s Digest article titled 25 Ways to Improve Your Writing in 30 Minutes a Day explains how we can write with pictures.

5. Imagery
A successful image can plug right into your reader’s nervous system at times when explanation falls flat. Consider, “Donna felt weak,” versus, “Donna was unable to bring the spoon to her mouth.” Which one makes you want to know what happens next?

To see how images give your writing a boost, rewrite each of the following statements in a way that shows instead of explains:

  • Her hair was a mess.
  • The garden was ready for picking.
  • I hate broccoli.
  • You always change your mind.
  • The moon is full.

Now, revisit a draft of your writing. Try making vague moments more vivid by replacing explanation with imagery. This won’t always be an appropriate solution—sometimes a simple, unembellished statement will be the most powerful choice. But you won’t know until you try.
—Sage Cohen

Let’s take Mr. Cohen’s advice to heart and try it.  Here’s what I came up with.

  • Her hair was a mess.

Every strand of her hair reached for a different direction.

  • The garden was ready for picking.

Walking through the garden was like walking through a landmine, every few feet I had to stop and pick a firm zucchini, red tomato, or pregnant melon.

  • I hate broccoli.

Just the thought of broccoli fills my mouth with bile.  (Okay, I know, that’s terrible, but I actually really like broccoli and I can’t think of how to visualize a hate I can’t imagine.)

  • You always change your mind.

You’re like a weather vane, pointing a different direction every time the wind blows.

  • The moon is full.

The moon hung in the sky like a bloated tick.

Your turn!

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