Writing is Seeing Images

There will be parts of your writing when it will be obvious that you are describing too much. You will be talking about your character’s past. It will be abstract, philosophical, and emotionally unengaging.

These parts will be ugly, filled with adjectives and adverbs. Delete them, especially adverbs. Your sentences will be long and hard to follow. You might think of them as beautiful because of their complexity but the true beauty lies in simplicity.  Be simple, be direct, and spread one message at a time. 

I am not telling you to omit subtext. The subtext is an essential aesthetic element in your writing. I’m telling you to see images if you want the same for your reader.

A work of art puts you in the middle of the thing. You don’t get an instruction manual on how to read a great piece of literature, you don’t get explanations, you are just there and you see images.

These images are vivid and they fire up your other senses; smell, sound, touch. These senses combined produce emotions; anger, love, fear, sadness, disgust, joy, compassion, jealousy…

Remember, if you want to create images for your reader, you need to create them for yourself first. Live inside your story. Follow your characters while they move around and talk to each other. Observe everything and try to catch as many details as you can. While you’re doing that, write down the most important ones.

Once you’re finished, let them rest. 

After they’ve rested, be the first reader. Read it, as if someone else has written it. If you can see the images, it means it’s good. If you feel that some images are inaccurate and incomplete, fix them or add them. If you feel that some images are redundant, delete them. If something is interrupting the image, delete it. 

Repeat until you’re happy.