Nancy's Books

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Visual Images

One great way to stimulate the imagination and creative process is through a guided visual tour. If you’re a teacher, ask students to close their eyes. If you’re a writer, just close your eyes and become your own tour guide. Ask questions that inspire visual images of a setting, object, or person. Imagine a trip. You are traveling. What is the type of transportation you’re using? Car? Foot power? Plane? Train? Boat? How comfortable is the transportation? How does it sound? What is the color? How fast are you traveling?

Imagine that you have reached your destination. Look around. What do you see? Buildings? Trees? People? What do the buildings look like? Are the trees like those you have seen? How are the people dressed?

Listen to the sounds? Do you hear people talking? Can you understand the language? Do you hear other sounds? Are the sounds familiar?

Reach out and touch something. Does it feel hard? Soft? Rough? Smooth?

Is there something edible? How does it taste?

Take a deep breath. What do you smell? Do you like the odor or aroma? How would you describe it?

Your trip is now over and you are back where you started. The sensory descriptions form mental pictures that help writers describe settings, events, objects, and people. Use words to express the visual images you created on your imaginary journey so readers can see the story the way you see it. Create word pictures using similes and metaphors. Think of your story as a movie. Picture what your characters look like, where they live, what they do, and how they talk.

Do you have a favorite method of developing sensory images? If so, pass it along. I’d love to hear from you.


  1. Using humor seems to make the image stick. I often compare people or places to the rich and famous, then add a new twist. In one of my new stories I said, "He looked like Sammy Davis Jr. with two good eyes." This figurative tag puts a fresh spin on sensory images for me.

  2. Marge, I love your imagery and the humor. Humor is an effective way to capture the reader's attention and hold it.