One of the things that make a great book is strong imagery, and the way an author can make you feel like you’re in their world, no matter how fictitious, or the scenes are so strongly illustrated that you feel like you’re watching the story like a movie.
It’s important for an author to be able to put enough description in their scene so the reader can get this feeling. While writing The Lerewood, I got a lot of compliments on my imagery and the way I describe the forest and the town. As an author, I feel like that’s one of my strong points, and I’ll share a few tips with you on how to achieve great imagery.
1. The Sims – I use the video game The Sims (preferably 1 or 3…haven’t tried 4 yet!) to build my character’s houses, build my characters, and come up with ideas too for the plot. The Sims is a great way to really bring your settings to life. When you picture a fictional house in your mind, sometimes things can get changed, or you can get confused, or forget, and that in result confuses the reader. It helps to virtually build a home so you can see it as you’re writing, and if you want to change something, you can take note of it and know to change it in your manuscript. I also use The Sims to figure out what some of my characters looks like—again, it helps to see it with your eyes rather than in your head. And if you’ve ever played The Sims, you know things can get a little out of hand, especially if your Sim has free will! It’s a fun way to get ideas for my stories…see what trouble my character gets in!
2. Diagrams – another great way to visualize your fictional home, or town, is to build a diagram. This might be a little costly and might take a trip or two to the craft store, but it’s also a cool display to keep in your home. For a while now I’ve been wanting to buy fake trees and build a diagram of the entire forest, including the different sections, and the town in The Lerewood.
3. Drawing – this is what I did to help me visualize the entire forest in The Lerewood, since it was a little difficult to do in The Sims, and too costly to do as a diagram. Though I’m not a great drawer, I’m not as satisfied, but it really did help me visualize the forest. For my current work in progress, I was thinking of hiring an artist to draw or paint portraits of my characters!
4. Barbies/Action Figures – okay, this one might be a little weird, but I have a Barbie obsession, and I like to have dolls that look like all my characters. Even making or buying their outfits helps me when I’m looking to describe them. I even hired an artist to paint a Barbie to look like me!
The key to building a great scene is by adding small details. Close your eyes, think of your scene, where it takes place, then think of the décor like what color the lamp shade is, or what kind of windows a house has. Think about what you first notice when you walk into a room. I also use meditation; with the help of a little incense and peace and quiet, I can clearly think about walking into a room and describing what I see. Try it out!
The house was built of rotten logs; cut, stacked, and bound together nearly a century ago. The roof, cracked and chipped in dozens of places from weathering and neglect, allowed rain to carelessly leak through. Inside, it was bowed inward, threatening to collapse. An attempt had been made to cover the dirt floor with woven branches, but the mat was broken in several spots, so dirt spread across the floor and dry brown grass grew in between the cracks.
The main room was a small “kitchen”; a crumbling fire pit stood in the corner, a large, smooth boulder used as a platform sat in the center, and several items for cooking were scattered around the area: slabs of clay, large leaves, dried and inflated animal stomachs and bladders used as cooking instruments and bellows, and carved stones. Flying insects large and small buzzed around and feasted on the rotted flesh scattered on the floor and splattered on the walls. The room was dark; only a few holes were carefully burned through the logs for light to pass through.
The cabin had only one room in the back for sleeping, cluttered with four small piles of layered stems and leaves meshed together for bedding, which stank from the sweat that soaked them during the night and moved from pests burrowing within.
~Excerpt from Chapter 1
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