What Do Bacon, Smurfs And Hair Ribbons Have In Common? – A Quick Strategy For Visual Imagery

Don’t you just love a child’s bedroom full of all kinds of contradictions? My daughter captures this by the existence of toy bacon, smurfs and hair ribbons right next to each other on the shelf.

We may not have all of the organization down pat, but boy is it fun to take imaginary journeys with a huge variety of loot and still wear the princess ribbons.

Do your scenes have rich visual imagery from a variety of sources? 

Readers experience books by escaping into an imaginary world with rich visual imagery. The richer the image, the stronger the impression.

Rich visual imagery doesn’t mean a half page of setting dump. No, readers like me would just turn the page to get to the action. I learned a few tips from Susan May Warren about developing the story world that helped me generate the questions below. Visual imagery can be a simple as including the answers to five strategic questions. Let’s give it a try.

Five Strategic Questions:

1. What is the mood of your scene in one word?

2. What objects in the scene can show that mood?

3. What verbs could you use to show a mood nuance?

4. How can you include the five senses in the scene connected to action?

5. What is one object in the scene that could be used symbolically or as a metaphor?

Possible Answers:

1. Trapped-Panic

2. rattle, gallop, teetered, choked, gasp, jagged, fraying, flailed

3-4.  sight – door knob rattles

sound- heavy breathing

taste – day old gum, dry

texture- orange t-shirt clung to her like a prison jumpsuit

smell- moth balls mingled with sweat

5.  Moth flapping against the light

Story Clip Possibility:

Please, don’t find me. Kelly pressed her back to the closet wall, curling her body into her chest. The smell of moth balls mingled with sweat perfumed her sticky clothing. She covered her mouth with shaky hands to mask her jagged breathing. Heavy boots clomped in the hallway.

Please just go away. 

Away. A place she hadn’t been for the past six months.

Her heart pounded against her prison orange T-shirt. No way out. Just like the moth that flailed against the light bulb overhead. She pressed her fingers into her eye sockets. Could it be just a dream?

The door knob rattled, fraying her nerves like claws on a chalkboard. Escape meant nothing in the four walled closet.  Imprisoned by the wood floor and old garments that hung overhead. She licked her lips. Her mouth tasted of weeks old gum she’d found in one of the coat pockets, dry and chalky.

A key turned the lock and the door swung open. Run.

Your Turn:

This is just a small story clip. It needs fleshing out, but you get a sense for how to use the questions to guide your writing. This clip above needs a few edits still, but that is the nature of a rough draft.

Take a paragraph or two of your own scene and try this same method. Post a few paragraphs below.



About Michelle Lim

Author Michelle Lim is the Brainstorming/Huddle Coach with My Book Therapy Press and the Midwest Zone Director for American Christian Fiction Writers. Michelle’s romantic suspense is represented by Karen Solem of Spencillhill Associates and has gained contest recognition in the Frasier, the Genesis, and the Phoenix Rattler, winning the Genesis in 2015 for her genre. Michelle writes devotionals for The Christian Pulse Online Magazine and Putting On The New. Since her nonfiction book release, Idea Sparking: How To Brainstorm Conflict In Your Novel, through public speaking and online chats Michelle helps writers discover the revolutionary power of brainstorming to bring new life to their stories.

6 thoughts on “What Do Bacon, Smurfs And Hair Ribbons Have In Common? – A Quick Strategy For Visual Imagery

  1. dtopliff says:

    This is very excellent and I will use–thanks.

  2. Michelle Lim says:

    So glad it helps, Dee!

  3. Pat Trainum says:

    Yes, excellent!! Printing it out now. These are things I definitely need to add to my writing!

  4. Michelle Lim says:

    Pat, thanks for being such a faithful blog visitor and encourager! I’m glad you find the post helpful!

  5. M. Saint-Germain says:

    Loved this post and how you showed step by step how to make my writing richer. Can’t wait to try it. Hope it sounds as sensory and full as yours.

  6. Michelle Lim says:

    Thanks, Michelle! I am quite sure yours will be amazing!

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