Be a Better Writer--USING IMAGERY

These lessons, by one of our most consistent FaithWriters' Challenge Champions, should not be missed. So we're making a permanent home for them here.

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Re: Be a Better Writer--USING IMAGERY

Post by glorybee » Tue Sep 16, 2014 10:24 pm

CatLin wrote:I also stumbled a bit reading "unknown smile", but the explanation helped. I've awakened with a smile on my lips before, so I know what you mean. Maybe "unconscious"?
If Todd's unconscious, he's definitely not smiling, and someone should call 911. Maybe whoever's in the kitchen makin' bacon.
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Re: Be a Better Writer--USING IMAGERY

Post by oursilverstrands » Tue Sep 16, 2014 11:03 pm

Just prolonging the fun a little longer.

Steve wrote:Also, have you ever played Poker? How many people’s “tell” is a smile?
Help me out here, Steve. How can you "tell" that they don't know they're smiling? - and about what?
Cat wrote:I've awakened with a smile on my lips before


Cat, you may have been smiling in your sleep, but the above indicates an awareness of the smile once you awoke.

Goodnight, :sleep



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"Let words bewitch you. Scrutinze them, mull them, savor them, and in combination, until you see their subtle differences and the ways they tint each other." Francis Flaherty

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Re: Be a Better Writer--USING IMAGERY

Post by swfdoc1 » Wed Sep 17, 2014 7:58 am

Quick, somebody else submit some sentences!
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Re: Be a Better Writer--USING IMAGERY

Post by RachelM » Thu Sep 18, 2014 3:11 pm

What a fun thread! It's great to see the friendly debate between writer and editor! :D

Here's a little piece that I wrote for a writing course that I took last year. It's probably overkill, since I had to write from all five senses about a quick walk outside. It was a great exercise, though.

~~~~

The newly naked poplar trunks bask in the sunlight with their white bark glowing in the last rays of the day. The air chills my cheek, and my ears tingle. It even smells like fall with the pungent odour of decaying cranberries and rosehips heavy on the air. Breathing in deeply, I can taste its salty tang on the tip of my tongue. I close my eyes and listen to the rattle of the last dry leaves above me and the honk of south-bound geese in the distance.
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Re: Be a Better Writer--USING IMAGERY

Post by glorybee » Thu Sep 18, 2014 3:33 pm

RachelM wrote: The newly naked poplar trunks bask in the sunlight with their white bark glowing in the last rays of the day. The air chills my cheek, and my ears tingle. It even smells like fall with the pungent odour of decaying cranberries and rosehips heavy on the air. Breathing in deeply, I can taste its salty tang on the tip of my tongue. I close my eyes and listen to the rattle of the last dry leaves above me and the honk of south-bound geese in the distance.
Rachel, this is very evocative.

I'd challenge you to take it a step further, and to do it without using the words "smells like" and "taste" and "listen."

For example, instead of " listen to the rattle of the last dry leaves..." try something like "I close my eyes and the last dry leaves rattle above me..."

See what I mean? Leaving out those words brings your sensory experience one step closer to the reader.
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Re: Be a Better Writer--USING IMAGERY

Post by RachelM » Thu Sep 18, 2014 3:47 pm

What great advice! I can immediately see that removing those words makes the sentence more powerful. Thanks, Jan!
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Re: Be a Better Writer--USING IMAGERY

Post by Cinnamon Bear » Fri Sep 19, 2014 6:54 pm

Sorry, I'm posting so late. Until last night, I thought I'd be posting in a very different tone. Alas, it was not to be.

So instead of the celebration of Scottish independence that I hoped for, I ended up writing a lament:

Fear Triumphs Over Hope

The scones have turned to sawdust;
The tartan’s gone to tweeds;
The whisky stills are shuttered.
St. Andrew’s Cross? It bleeds.

Haggis comes now in a can.
Naught but instant oatmeal.
Just squeakin’ from the bagpipes.
Unicorn is not-real.

The Loch Ness monster hides in grief.
The salmon fail to spawn.
Scots Folds have all gone straight-eared.
The Wildcats are gone.

Bonny bluebells ceased their ringin’.
Red roses fail to bloom.
The thistles lost their prickles.
In the gloamin’, gloom and doom.

In the thick of yellowed bracken,
Amidst the dyin’ heather,
Instead of Bobbie Burns, they chant
"We’d be 'Better Together.'”

Blackberries all gone sour;
The haddock’s tough and dry.
The shortbread is acrumblin’,
All for the want of “Aye!”

Cinnamon Bear :cry:
Last edited by Cinnamon Bear on Wed Sep 24, 2014 8:46 am, edited 3 times in total.

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Re: Be a Better Writer--USING IMAGERY

Post by glorybee » Fri Sep 19, 2014 7:00 pm

Lots and lots of sensory images there--thanks so much (although I'm sorry you had to write a dirge). I think you managed to get every single sense in there.

And totally off the subject of imagery (but on the subject of the poem)--I have no idea in the least what the pros and cons of that vote were. Why did you want the vote to be "yes?" (If you don't want to post it publicly, you could message me. Or not, if it's none of my business. I'm just curious, and woefully uninformed.)
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Re: Be a Better Writer--USING IMAGERY

Post by Cinnamon Bear » Fri Sep 19, 2014 7:41 pm

Jan, thanks for your interest.

Some folks believe that those of us who hoped for Scottish independence are old-fashioned romantics, imagining Scotland to be all oatmeal, tartans, and bagpipes. Nothing could be further from the truth.

For myself, I lived in Scotland for two years--long enough to learn that Scottish independence makes the most sense. Scotland is a small country, very diverse, who values and encourages immigration. The supporters of independence hoped to build a more just society, to eradicate the extremes of poverty, and also to build many international friendships. They wanted Scotland to have full decision-making powers.

Scotland does have some control--for example, it has its own educational and legal systems. But Westminster in London controls the following: defense, social security, immigration, benefits, foreign policy, employment, broadcasting, trade and industry, nuclear energy, oil, gas and electricity, consumer affairs and the constitution. The values of many Scots are different from the values of the London government in regards to some of these areas.

There may be a few Scots who truly like the idea of being "British" rather than "Scottish". However, I believe that many voted "No", because they are afraid that Scotland does not have the financial resources to succeed without the rest of the UK. There were also concerns about whether an independent Scotland could keep the British pound, and whether it could join NATO and the EU.

I realize that the "No" side had some legitimate concerns. In my view, however, both the American and British press have been guilty of fear mongering rather than reasoned debate. I also feel that many Americans, including some politicians, took a stand against independence even though they know little or nothing about Scottish society.

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Re: Be a Better Writer--USING IMAGERY

Post by rider » Sun Sep 28, 2014 12:16 am

Hi!
I'm late to this, but have been pointed to it by someone in my challenge buddy group. I really need help with imagery. Here is a sentence I really struggled with from my last entry:

'From inside the shop a large, elderly, Greek man wearing a Greek fisherman's cap came towards me,walking between dozens of buckets full of fresh flowers that formed a delicate, colorful rug of petals on either side of him. '

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Re: Be a Better Writer--USING IMAGERY

Post by glorybee » Sun Sep 28, 2014 9:45 am

rider wrote:Hi!
I'm late to this, but have been pointed to it by someone in my challenge buddy group. I really need help with imagery. Here is a sentence I really struggled with from my last entry:

'From inside the shop a large, elderly, Greek man wearing a Greek fisherman's cap came towards me,walking between dozens of buckets full of fresh flowers that formed a delicate, colorful rug of petals on either side of him. '

Kon
Hi, Kon, and welcome to the lessons!

Your sentence definitely has good visual imagery; I can easily picture this man. I'd tighten it a little bit, and perhaps change the end, because describing the buckets as a rug doesn't quite work for me. Buckets are far more 3-dimensional than rugs are, and having rugs on either side doesn't quite work, either. Also, buckets aren't particularly delicate. What about something like this:

From inside the shop, an elderly Greek man wearing a fisherman's cap walked toward me, weaving between dozens of colorful buckets of fresh flowers.


I used some of the concepts from my "tight writing" class there--got the passage from 39 words to 24 words, added additional motion ("weaving") and still retained the vivid imagery. What do you think?
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Re: Be a Better Writer--USING IMAGERY

Post by rider » Sun Sep 28, 2014 9:58 pm

Thank you Jan for you feedback, especially seeing as I did not go through the homework steps, which I only discovered later.
I see what you mean about the buckets-rug idea not working. I suppose it is a case of trying to create an image when it just is not there. Sometimes what is in our heads just is not on the page.
I liked the added imagery of the man weaving through the buckets. You made the whole scene richer, more real and more dynamic - probably less pretentious.

Kon

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Re: Be a Better Writer--USING IMAGERY

Post by TracePezzali » Thu Oct 09, 2014 12:15 am

Hi Jan

I'm new to Faithwriters and introduced myself to you a few days ago. I've since been reading through these helpful teaching lessons and have applied the tips and suggestions to a free verse poem (previously titled "Helpless not Hopeless" which you looked at for me.)

I include it below for your appraisal as to whether the images I've used are credible, and for suggestions if there are any weak spots that need tweaking. I'm pleased that it works so much better then the original, just in the changes already made. Here goes:

***

If only I were more godly!!

My Goodness, then, the greater power
Over this shrill beast Temper whose snarl destroys the quiet nature

My Wisdom, then, presiding over
Cacophony of Choice with a reasoning voice

My Pure Love, then, sufficient and just
To quieten Pain and Loss, and through its own blood, wash

I would be perfect in my humility

Oh just laugh at this ludicrous parody!

Even a new-born babe soon loses sinless innocence
The demand of Self screams
and smothers others.
It is calculated in its coldness,
Develops hardness and

In its chinks, perhaps Kindness –
That nature in the image of God
There somewhere
Wanting to become the entire woman
But
Even my very best merit overwhelms me with failure.

In this low place beaten down by misdeed
In the constant struggle with it
Only one escape

Gaze up.
Adjust.
Practice.

Perhaps in part on earth
Perhaps my all in Heaven
These Holy Attributes evident
Because I, a vessel
Strive not in my own effort.
Trace Pezzali

"It is written: 'I believed; therefore I have spoken.' With that same spirit of faith we also believe and therefore speak... so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God." 2 Cor 4:13-15

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Re: Be a Better Writer--USING IMAGERY

Post by glorybee » Thu Oct 09, 2014 7:40 am

TracePezzali wrote: I include it below for your appraisal as to whether the images I've used are credible, and for suggestions if there are any weak spots that need tweaking. I'm pleased that it works so much better then the original, just in the changes already made. Here goes:

***

If only I were more godly!!

My Goodness, then, the greater power
Over this shrill beast Temper whose snarl destroys the quiet nature

My Wisdom, then, presiding over
Cacophony of Choice with a reasoning voice

My Pure Love, then, sufficient and just
To quieten Pain and Loss, and through its own blood, wash

I would be perfect in my humility

Oh just laugh at this ludicrous parody!

Even a new-born babe soon loses sinless innocence
The demand of Self screams
and smothers others.
It is calculated in its coldness,
Develops hardness and

In its chinks, perhaps Kindness –
That nature in the image of God
There somewhere
Wanting to become the entire woman
But
Even my very best merit overwhelms me with failure.

In this low place beaten down by misdeed
In the constant struggle with it
Only one escape

Gaze up.
Adjust.
Practice.

Perhaps in part on earth
Perhaps my all in Heaven
These Holy Attributes evident
Because I, a vessel
Strive not in my own effort.
Hi, Trace--

I think the imagery of sounds in the first part of this poem is particularly effective. The words shrill, snarl and cacophony really set the mood. I also appreciated the feelings evoked by chinks, beaten down, and gaze up.

This is a strong poem with great imagery, word choice, and metaphor. Well done!
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Re: Be a Better Writer--USING IMAGERY

Post by TracePezzali » Thu Oct 09, 2014 7:14 pm

Yay! Thanks Jan.
Trace Pezzali

"It is written: 'I believed; therefore I have spoken.' With that same spirit of faith we also believe and therefore speak... so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God." 2 Cor 4:13-15

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