Lake Atitlan, Panajachel, Guatemala

“Reading and writing are acts of empathy and faith. Guard that trust carefully — in this rapidly changing business, it’s the only sure thing.” ~Erin Keane
"Never give up. And most importantly, be true to yourself. Write from your heart, in your own voice, and about what you believe in." ~ Louise Brown

"Write something to suit yourself and many people will like it; write something to suit everybody and scarcely anyone will care for it."
~Jesse Stuart

"A writer's job is to take one thing and make it stand for twenty." ~ Virginia Woolf

Monday, April 11, 2011

I is for Imagery

IMAGERY designates a special usage of words in which there is a change in their basic meaning. Patterns of IMAGERY, often without the conscious knowledge of author or reader, are sometimes taken to be keys to a deeper meaning of a work. Some critics tend to see the "image pattern" as indeed being the basic meaning of the work and a better key to its interpretation than the explicit statements of the author or the more obvious events of plot or action. Contrasting images of light and dark are among the most conspicuous of IMAGERY.

Students in literature classes often get tired of teachers harping on how IMAGERY is used in literature to express meaning and theme, but it is this very thing that gives a work the depth that sets it apart from a simple telling of a story. And it is done so subtly by a skilled writer that it takes a careful reading, usually more than once, to recognize how the author uses IMAGERY.

(This post has been inspired by and in some instances, directly quoted from A Handbook to Literature, 8th Edition, by William Harmon and C. Hugh Holman)

26 comments:

  1. Exactly. Imagery should be a subtle seasoning -- enhancing without overpowering.

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  2. Great post. I think some of the best stories are the ones where imagery just falls into place. It wasn't planned. It just happened.

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  3. As a student, I always loved to pick apart the imagery authors used to express themes and give depth to characters. Other students despised this exercise, but I always read with pencil in hand, underlining and marking up margins. Still do.

    In that vein, my A to Z word today is Idiom.

    Lucy

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  4. When you can see, hear and smell what the characters do....Imagery perfection.

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  5. We need to help the reader see touch feel smell and hear what is going on in the book and most importantly feel. Imagery is a great tool in helping the reader feel.

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  6. Great post! I'm really enjoying following your A - Z posts, they're always helpful reminders of what I need to be working on.

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  7. This is not one of my strong suits in my writing, but I sure do love it when it is well done. Great "I" post, Karen.
    Karen

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  8. Liked this 'I' - geat reminder of importance if imagery, so that people can 'see' the story, as opposed to just knowing what happened in it.
    Thanks
    All best
    Karla

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  9. I think I need to learn the difference between description and imagery. Imagery has power. Great post!

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  10. I love using imagery. It's one of the things I'm focusing on in honing my skills~ :o) <3

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  11. I like imagery that is easily grasped without a reading trying to decipher too much. In this case I think obvious can be good. I am a bit off put by an author who attempts to be overly artsy by trying to create obscure imagery that doesn't make sense and requires explanation. Imagery should require a minimal amount of explanation.


    Lee
    Tossing It Out
    Twitter hashtag: #atozchallenge

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  12. I just love your blog as it always gets me thinking of what I need to work on with my own writing. Great post!

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  13. I love imagery.
    I'm a fellow A-Z challenger and new follower. :)

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  14. I don't think I'm that deep of a writer...

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  15. I just loved reading this!! Thank you! Take care
    x

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  16. I finished reading Wintergirls over the weekend by Laurie Halse Anderson and was blown away by her use of imagery. There was one scene where it was snowing outside of school and I almost grabbed my pen and paper to write it down (it's a library book, you see) so I would never forget it!

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  17. A reader may forget a writer's exact words, but if those words trigger a deeper underlying image that engages the senses and stimulates the imagination, the book itself will never be forgotten.

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  18. Imagery is like your favourite spice. Too much and it overpowers the recipe, but just the right amount will blend so well that you might even miss it if you're not careful, but you'll still feel its presence.

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  19. If a book is really good, I will have to read it more than once to see all the technical elements. I get too caught up in the story the first time.

    On the second (and third and fourth and fifth) time, I can see some of the elements and appreciate them.

    Imagery is one of my favorite things to incorporate, and to discover.

    Excellent post!

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  20. Use of all the senses. Yep, I get this. Great post

    warm wishes
    Debbie

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  21. I love a book that the author obviously spent a lot of careful time and thought about the imagery

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  22. Great post! Imagery is so important to me. I love it when I can practically feel myself in the book because of the imagery!

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  23. Imagery is the placement of words too, not just a bunch of fancy words thrown together. It's like cooking--two people can use the same ingredients but one dish might taste better.

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  24. Hi Karen .. love the thought of this - we can use few words, or many .. but the evocation must be there. You're so right .. thanks - Hilary

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