How to Use Imagery in Writing

Updated July 12, 2018

Use imagery in short stories, novels, songs or poems to give a more vivid, clearer description through the use of the five senses. A versatile use of imagery creates a piece that captivates the reader because the reader can clearly see, hear, taste, touch or smell the writer's words about a subject, a character or a setting.

Close your eyes and imagine what you are trying to describe, then quickly scribble words, phrases or images whether visual, aural, olfactory, tactile or gustatory.

Choose specific and clear words to effectively convey an image. Have constant access to a thesaurus whether online or a book, and understand how to cross reference a thesaurus. Verify that the word your are choosing has the correct meaning and usage according to the context.

Incorporate imagery through literary devices such as similes, metaphors or personification.

Study authors, such as Homer, who have mastered imagery. In the Odyssey, Homer offers the reader a image of the helplessness of the victims of the Cyclopes with the words: "...and [Cyclopes]caught two [men] in his hands like squirming puppies...."

Make abstract ideas and emotions more concrete through imagery. For example, describe an overwhelming pain as "the pain felt as if a luminous cloud hung over the bed ever approaching to suffocate me."

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