Writer’s Corner; Imagery

These days, people talk a lot about which is better; graphic novels or chapter books. In my family, it’s usually more of an argument than a discussion! Some think graphic novels encourage people to read. As my daughter’s teacher pointed out, pictures draw us in a lot faster than words – especially when someone hasn’t learned to love reading yet.  I agree! As a child I couldn’t wait to buy my weekly comics or read the annuals I got for Christmas.

However, images are not a substitute for imagery. Imagery is a writing device that helps the reader picture the scene a writer is describing. For writers, knowing how to use imagery is essential! 

The website Literary Devices says that “Imagery draws on the five senses, namely the details of taste, touch, sight, smell, and sound.” 

Here’s an example of a paragraph in Chapter 1 of The Thorn Queen that uses a lot of imagery:  

“Meylyne plummeted toward the prince. His head snapped up and he grunted like a hog as she hit him square in the chest.  Together they thudded to the ground. The prince cushioned her fall but still the world swam and she tasted blood and ice in her mouth.” 

What words paint a picture in the paragraph above?  

Is it harder for you to imagine the scene if it’s written this way? 

“Meylyne fell toward the prince.  She dropped on top of him and they both hit the ground.  Even with him blocking her fall she felt dizzy.”

Would you like to practice adding imagery?  

  1. Think of something that you saw happen recently.  (If you can’t think of anything, you can use the example at the end of this post*.)
  2. Describe it very simply in around three sentences.  
  3. Look at your sentences and look for ways you can add details about taste, touch, sight, smell, and sound.
  4. Find someone you can read both of your examples to.  See if they can imagine the scene better before or after you added details.

For more practice, go to the website Literary Devices and read more about imagery. Test your new knowledge with the three questions at the bottom of the Literary Devices imagery article. 

*Practice paragraph: “I was sitting outside with my drink and felt a breeze. I looked up and saw a boy had just passed me on a skateboard. He was wearing a backpack and going very fast.”

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