“V” is for Visualize


It’s a writer’s job to paint a picture with words. We have to describe settings, create movement, elicit sounds and smells, heck, even mimic touch.

Keeping all this going takes a lot of mental power, IMHO.

Personally, I focus on picturing an entire scene in my mind, through my main character’s eyes. I literally try to experience their world as if I *am* them. Colors, sounds, smells, distractions, weather, pain, hunger, emotional states, I want to envision it all.

Granted, not all this information gets catalogued in my novel, but it helps me picture what’s happening and where things are going.

Tell me, what strategies do you use to visualize your scenes?

(link to pic)

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20 comments on ““V” is for Visualize

  1. I play each scene like a movie reel in my mind, adding in variables and possible intrusions each time I do it. That’s how I develop my scenes. Then I’ll go in (my head) and started layering emotions, motivations, and desires (hidden ones, too.)

  2. Vixter2010 says:

    Like Sheri I imagine it like a movie playing, how would the scene play out for real, mood, setting etc.

  3. I lay down the bones of the scene first, then close my eyes and fall into the moment. I ask myself what do I see, hear, taste, feel (as in touch), smell AND what emotion/reaction does it elicit? I type the answers with my eyes still closed, then go back and edit the scene keeping only the parts which move the plot forward or reveal important info about my characters.

  4. Ciara Knight says:

    Sheri, I do the same thing? I always have a vivid image in my head as I write. The trick is getting the reader to see it while allowing them to use their own imagination.

  5. That sounds like a great way to do it. Anne Lamott tells you to look through a 1″ square picture frame. What you do kind of reminds me of her advice, too.

  6. Lynn Rush says:

    Wow. What a fantastic picture. Love it.

    For me, I close my eyes and look at the scene as if it were a movie!

  7. Linda Gray says:

    Same here. But the toughest for me is visualizing enough ‘live action/sensory detail’ to get through a substantial section of dialogue without zoning everything out except the talk, because in my mind’s eye I’m right there living the conversation, face-to-face. Any suggestions for that?? 🙂

  8. Reece says:

    I’m actually terrible at this. It’s not that I can’t see everything in my mind (I totally do!), but I get so wrapped up in what’s happening that I forget other people can’t see what I do. Needless to say, my first few drafts are heavy on action and dialogue, but scant on setting. Then I have to go back and figure out how to work the scenery in without it feeling forced or misplaced. I really don’t recommend it.

  9. I, too, try to imagine what it would be like to be the character in the scene. Each character is uniquely affected by his/her own history, which makes each one’s reactions different in some respects. I think this is one of the joys, and challenges, of writing. I wish I were an expert in this. I’m a novice, nevertheless, this is the essence of novel writing, I think.

  10. talliroland says:

    I’ve never really thought about it. When I’m writing, it’s kind of like I’m just in the character, and not me — if that makes sense!

  11. kendallgrey says:

    Looks like a lot of people do the same thing, Laura. I try to “become” the POV character. What would that person see, hear, smell, touch, or taste in this particular setting or under X circumstances? How would s/he react? I try to filter everything through the POV character’s eyes. A warrior wouldn’t notice a flower in a clay vase–s/he’d probably go straight for the sword leaning against the wall.

  12. I guess I’m rather like, Sheri. I’ve always been able to close my eyes and imagine the scene like a movie. It does make things easier for scenes!

  13. Catherine Johnson says:

    It’s good to see so many say about imagining it being a movie. It’s the easiest way to relate to it actually happening.

  14. Terrific image!

    I am an artist so I definitely paint the scene in my mind and then create it in prose. Words are an amazing medium!

  15. Akoss says:

    I just do a lot of visualization, either while writing it, or during a workout, or when I’m taking care of chores. Sometimes I get so deep into the characters skin it creeps me out when the scene I’m working on is over.

  16. Lydia K says:

    Sometimes I don’t have anything better than just shutting my eyes and imagining. Lovely pict!

  17. deniz says:

    I do it your way for the most part, moving through a scene in my pov character’s head. If I’m really stuck, I write the entire scene as a stream of consciousness. That usually gets all kinds of emotions, reactions and sensory impressions “unstuck”!

  18. Trisha says:

    I tend to really picture the entire scene, all the surroundings, etc., too. But I have to take care not to describe ALL THAT, because if I do my word count will blow out by 40k 😀

  19. Elle Strauss says:

    I do find visualizing very important. I need to see a movie version in my mind before I can sit down and write a scene.

  20. Like many of the others, I allow the scene to play in my head as if I am watching a movie and I become engrossed. I take in the sounds, smells, sights etc. by acting as if I am the character experiencing them. As soon as it becomes as real to me as if I am the character then I can can portray the images, sounds, and so forth for my readers

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