How to Create Beautiful Imagery in Fiction

How to Create Beautiful Imagery in Fiction

By on Sep 1, 2016 in Fiction, Writing & Editing

Creating beautiful imagery in fiction is not difficult, and it can catapult a good story into a masterpiece. These days, every writer has heard the rule “show, don’t tell”, especially when it comes to describing the emotions and actions of characters. Creating beautiful imagery means showing more than just emotions and actions. It means painting the world around your characters with words, similes, and even metaphors, in order to evoke the readers’ senses, and to bring the world itself alive in their minds. Beautiful imagery is what makes a secondary character extremely important, it’s what makes objects, places and weather sentient beings the readers will care about. Using creative words and descriptive language to paint the world around your characters allows you to convey emotions, not only by showing those emotions with their actions, but also through their eyes and the things they see when they look upon the world. Below, we have shown a few ways this can be achieved, and we hope it helps you create beautiful stories that will touch anyone who reads them.

1. Seek beautiful imagery

One of the most common advice given to aspiring authors is to read everything. We will elaborate a bit on it, and add: read looking for beautiful imagery, for descriptive writing, and look upon what you read with a critical eye. Novels, poems, short stories, they are all different, unique, but when it comes to descriptive language and writing style, some are better than others. Seek descriptive writing and beautiful imagery, and read them with a critical eye – it is necessary, because that way you will not only learn how to use descriptive language better, you will also discover how not to do it. Remember, there is a difference between purple prose and beautiful imagery – beautiful imagery evokes the senses and makes stories come alive, while purple prose draws attention to itself and can be difficult to read, like eating a cake that’s too sweet.

2. Use the character’s voice

When it comes to descriptive writing, the point of view is very important. If you’re using omnipresent third point of view, the use of descriptive language to create beautiful imagery can feel a little detached, because the characters are not actually seeing and thinking the words you’re writing on the page. This detachment is not present in third person limited point of view or first person point of view. What you need to pay attention to is wording – the characters’ thoughts, the words they use to describe their emotions and surroundings need to match the words they would use when speaking to other people, or speaking to themselves. Do not make the characters sound too eloquent in their minds, when that is not in their nature. Use the characters’ personalities and voice instead, and the conveyance will be much more powerful.

3. A mixture of senses

When it comes to creating beautiful imagery, it is very important to include the senses. Depending on the scene, and of what you are trying to convey, you can include only one or two, for example, the sense of smell and touch, or you can evoke more senses by including taste, sight and hearing. When it comes to evoking senses, sometimes, two or three will have a bigger impact than every sense, and an additional method would be to have a dominant sense. For example, what the character sees can be conveyed more elaborately, while using the auditory and olfactory sense to aid the imagery. Any sense can be a dominant sense, because scent, sight, taste, and feel can have equal impact on your characters and readers.

4. Convey moods

We can convey everything with the right words, but atmosphere and overall mood of both your story and characters, can be conveyed best with beautiful imagery. Instead of plowing through your scenes fast, take the time to find the right descriptive words, and use them to convey the mood of the scene. Remember, every scene has a mood, and with descriptive words you can amplify the tension, or relieve it. In this manner, you will pull your readers into your world completely, not only through the emotions of your characters but through the atmosphere of the scenes as well. Before attempting to do this in a story or a novel, you can practice writing scenes, especially scenes where your character feels happy despite bleak surroundings, like clouds, rain, or derelict places, or scenes where your characters are feeling profoundly sad, despite being surrounded by beauty.

5. Avoiding clichés

Often, eyes are as blue as a summer sky, or shine like diamonds, or are compared to other beautiful sparkly things. When it comes to creating beautiful imagery, originality is highly appreciated and admired. Abandon all clichés, all metaphors and similes you’ve read before, and come up with new ones. This is the most difficult aspect of crafting beautiful imagery, and the most challenging too, but it also allows you to be very creative. You will need a lot of practice to avoid clichés, especially since we absorb common metaphors and similes without being aware of it. However, with diligent practice and determination, you can face the challenge and embrace it, until creating original metaphors and similes becomes second nature.

Georgina Roy wants to live in a world filled with magic. As an art student, she’s moonlighting as a writer and is content to fill notebooks and sketchbooks with magical creatures and amazing new worlds. When she is not at school, or scribbling away in a notebook, you can usually find her curled up, reading a good urban fantasy novel, or writing on her laptop, trying to create her own.


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