1. Mocheo Timo

    Mocheo Timo Senior Member

    Apr 25, 2015
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    World of Bob

    How do you avoid awkward imagery?

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Mocheo Timo, Dec 23, 2015.

    None of us can deny the importance of imagery in writing. That is one of the major points which I look at when distinguishing "ok" writing from great writing. For example, I was amazed when Winston said his "soul writhed with boredom" in one of the Party meetings in 1984. No wonder Orwell is such a fantastic writer.

    However, there are cases in which trying to convey creative approaches to imageries can make them awkward, or even wrong. That can completely break the flow of the message you are trying to convey in your writing.
    I remember how once during Valentine, I blurred my paper in an attempt to make a Valentine card. I tried to make up for it by writing the phrase: "Blurring in love". I thought I was being very creative back then; however, I cannot emphasise how awkward this phrase sounds to me right now.

    There are cases in which we know the imagery is wrong, because the context makes it impossible or it simply does not make sense. For example, I once mistakingly said: "Silence materialized in the room." The idea of silence materializing is so hard to imagine, that it simply sounds awkward. It is easier to change the entire sentence than to stick to the imagery. With those cases we can think logically and look for ways to express our message differently.

    The trick is that writing is interpreted differently from reader to reader. So how do you identify whether the imagery you use can convey the proper message you are trying to convey, or whether it can make your writing awkward and the reader confused?
  2. Wreybies

    Wreybies Thrice Retired Supporter Contributor

    May 1, 2008
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    El Tembloroso Caribe
    I actually like this image. Silence can sometimes be more of a presence than sound. This image captures that. It's emotive.

    I think you need to flip your question around: How can I feel confident in my imagery?

    My answer is: by committing to it. Don't be afraid or embarrassed by the things you think. I started a thread a while back on the very topic and it seems to be something which many people feel insecurity about, so instead of committing to their imagery, they hold back and present it in a "please don't hit me" kind of way. They soft-shoe it with seems and was like and reminded one of and a host of other syntaxes that feel like the author is saying "I'm just saying it was sorta' like, not exactly like.... please like me!!"

  3. BrianIff

    BrianIff I'm so piano, a bad punctuator. Contributor

    Apr 26, 2015
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    I never finished this book, but the most memorable passage deals with the quasi-sacred reverence labourers treated bananas on a plantation in Guatemala. Consider how any hesitance or something to the effect of "you would've thought it was Jesus" would sound in contrast to the original (written in third-person):

    And, as a matter of fact, the cutting of the fruit did have something like the frenzy of small animals about it as they detached the bunches from a gigantic green mass with the cutting edge of their hooks. The movements of the cutting crew at the foot of the banana tree which looked like a green cross resembled those of Jews with ladders and spears as they tried to lift down a green Christ who had been changed into a bunch of bananas which descended among arms and ropes and was received with great care, as if it were the case of an overdelicate being, and carried off in small carts to receive its sacramental bath and be placed in a bag with special cushions inside.

    From Strong Wind, by Miguel Angel Asturias, Nobel Laureate
  4. peachalulu

    peachalulu Member Reviewer Contributor

    May 20, 2012
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    occasionally Oz , mainly Canada
    I think this is good and like Wreybies I believe you have to be bold and not pussyfoot around. Once you start to hesitate or second guess, or hide your metaphors and descriptions in a lot of fluff than it starts to lose it's luster. At that point it's just another phrase making a long sentence longer or a long paragraph longer. The reader skims and misses the point or beauty of the message.

    Also, practice. Every time I start a folder and a project I have a word doc usually called Chew on This. And it's filled with ramblings. Lots of details, descriptions, bits of scenes. They're just practice bits so that I'm constantly thinking in terms of words. I'm word gathering. And because I'm anxious to get a thought down it also helps me find ways of making my point quicker.
    Wreybies and Mocheo Timo like this.
  5. Jack Asher

    Jack Asher Banned Contributor

    Sep 4, 2013
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    Worthy of the Bulwer Lytton contest.

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