Monday, September 16, 2013
The Word Image
My pastor once said, “Words don’t mean anything until you see it.” He went on to discuss how the sum of the words we read or hear reveal a concept that produces a mental image. He was talking about spiritual things of course, but in addition to reflecting on the truths within, I thought about the parallel to writing.
As writers, we know this is important. But knowing and doing are two different things. How do you translate images from your mind so that readers see what you're saying?
Do you use...
Similes & metaphors?
All of the above?
When writing fiction, such as my work in progress set in colonial America, I set scenes and action in my head, mentally sketching, observing, and compiling sensory details as I write. Resources like The Emotion Thesaurus enhance and expand the setting, action, and dialogue. Fiction author Jody Hedlund says she thinks of each scene as a stage, and you only want so many characters on the stage at a time. I like this idea; it clarifies the story and characters and limits reader confusion.
For non fiction, I've learned a lot by writing lessons. There's something about explaining concepts to others that is a catalyst for clear communication. It also helps to ditch excess words like very and really that do not boost our writing as much as we think. A balance of sensory words and specific details further shape ideas to get the point across.
Feedback from other writers is another great tool for both fiction and non fiction. Outside input illustrates how effective our words are.
What do you think? What helps you communicate with your readers?
Have a great week!
P.S. Susan J. Reinhardt is hosting a Goodreads giveaway for her book, The Moses Conspiracy. Check out the details here.
Photo credit: Stock Exchange