Visuals in Your Head

How does a flash fiction writer project a visual for the reader?

Through the use of concrete nouns, specific descriptive words that offer weight in their meaning.

Consider this:   “Don’t kill that fly.”

Do you get a visual?   No.

Now consider this haiku:

“Don’t kill that poor fly!

He cowers, wringing

his hands for mercy.”    (Issa)

I can see that image.  Can you?

Use the full extent of the senses in perceiving and describing data from the outside world.  Vision,  smell, sound,  taste, touch and  gut sense  (psyche)

Demonstrate for the reader what the narrator perceives.

Another example that I adapted and rewrote from a young children’s book (Penelope and Pip build a Prose Poem: Pete Heiden”) offers lovely “imagery” that the reader can visualize:

The Dragon Flies

“A dragon flies over white gardenias, eyes like basketballs, missing nose and ears, his face and head and back bright green, six long black legs, waist blue, a long red, spotted tail. Lay low and watch him eat that fly or gnat or even that bee, and perhaps that  yellow butterfly.”

Contrast the above with this example:

“A dragonfly chases insects in my garden.”   Not much of a visual here.

Use specific nouns to speak of the universal.  Instead of “garden” choose a concrete example such as a gardenia or a lavender stalk.

Yes, as you’ve probably guessed, this discussion refers to “show don’t tell.”

Concrete language.  Imagery.  Offer a picture in the reader’s head.

Prompt for today:

Choose an “aha” moment and describe it in concrete language for a reader.  Let the reader “see” what you see or “hear” what you hear etc.  Keep it simple, concise and specific.

More later on the craft of short fiction writing.

Kaye LindenVisuals in Your Head

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