Imagery is a very important tool in writing. Imagery helps readers feel as if they’re part of a story, instead of just reading one.
In my opinion, I think few books really do a great job of incorporating imagery. I’ve read countless books where I find myself having a difficult time really seeing what I’m reading. However, there are writers like John Saul and Stephen King who come along and prove their ability to incorporate imagery in a successful matter.
After writing my first novel, Rest in Piece, I found that, while I had several good reviews, a common opinion was that I tended to tell more than show. While I do think I did a good job at using imagery in some areas of my novel, I agree that I could have done better.
As I’m working on my new writing project – a collection of short stories – I’m trying my hardest to use more imagery. In some ways, it’s difficult. One of my stories is a bit grotesque at times, dealing with a murderer who goes after mostly women. While I do think that the imagery is necessary to show how sick and disturbed the character is, it’s difficult for me to be so graphic.
I’m a person who prides herself on kindness; on not being gross or disturbing. The fact that I’m writing a story that would probably upset my mother does bother me. However, I know as a writer, you have to be strong and realize that some of the best books are detailed – even if the details make readers squirm.
Oftentimes, the best stories are the ones that put readers on edge. Simply stating that a man killed a woman isn’t enough. Readers will just read that and think, “Well that’s sad” or “That guy’s horrible!” and continue on their way. As a writer, you want your readers to really stop and think about the character’s actions – to really understand just how good or bad that character is!
So if you’re a type of person who doesn’t like to incorporate grotesque scenes and feels guilty doing so, please realize that sometimes, in order to write a good book, it’s necessary to be a little disturbing. That is, if the story calls for it. I’m not saying that you should throw in gross scenes willie nillie, but if you’re trying to convey someone doing something heinous or wrong, getting graphic might just be necessary. Don’t feel guilty for being a good writer.