Imagery – A Critique

Fireworks Exploding

Image courtesy of stock.xchng

Imagery is one of the intangibles in writing, the way words are strung together to evoke mental images.  Some readers are drawn to plot lines and story arcs, but as a reader I’m drawn to writing that wrenches my emotions, in a positive or negative way.

The right group of words, strung together in a way that pulls at my memory and imagination, is enough to draw me further into a novel or a story than even the tightest plot.  I like feeling the characters and the story and the setting, and imagery is crucial to realizing that connection to a piece of writing.

Ash at Shades of Blue and Green massages words into place in a way that brings emotions to the forefront of an experience.  When Cam proposed a flash memoir prompted by the word “Crash”, Ash countered with flash fiction that sensuously weaves together song lyrics and relatively disjointed prose.  The piece appears in its entirety here; the bold italics are my notes.

Drinks, dessert, doorway dance. Experiences of long ago.

Then tonight.

    This anticipatory line implies tonight will contain an event that contrasts with previous experiences

Doors opened, doors held, doors no longer slammed shut.

    The contrast between closed and open doors relays a feeling of anything being possible.

Teenage wanting wound tight in a stretched and scarred body.

    The heat rises here, making me wonder about “stretched and scarred”.  Emotionally? Physically?

Music, from inside her head, maybe the other room.

… “who’s got their claws in you my friend…into your heart I’ll beat again…”

Tell tale. Who knew it still could?

… “touch your lips just so I know, in your eyes, love, it glows so…I’m bare boned and crazy for you…”

Fingers on buttons, in hair, between lips.

     The physicality here is urgent and teasing; the image is outlined with Ash’s words, filled in with my imagination.

A giggle, because she knows what’s to come.

Please let the lighting be kind.

     A lightness here, the pause before the moment is taken too far, the antipation is increased with the lyrics.

… “I’m begging you to forgive me in my haste…”‘

Boots shed. Hands slide.

… “hike up your skirt a little more and show your world to me, in a boy’s dream…”

Eyes close.

     The short sentences punctuate this into almost a dreamlike state, urgent and inevitable.

She knows she will survive this.

     There is strength here, and awareness, and I can’t help but project myself into the emotions of the character.

This is the type of writing I read and then let out a breath, without realizing I’ve been holding it.  Part of my draw to this was the use of the Dave Matthews Band lyrics, especially combined with the idea of “teenage wanting.”

The language throughout the piece is relatively abstract, the scene painted with brief details, allowing readers to fill in the gaps with their own imaginations.

I enjoyed the way Ash used the senses of hearing and touch.  Many times as writers we tend to focus on the visual aspects of imagery, but this shows the way that other senses can really call forth a scene, bringing the writer physically into the piece.  Without any sort of explicit sexuality, Ash is able to really bring a sense of sensuality and heat into this brief piece.

Thank you so much to Ash for letting us spotlight her fiction here today, and visit her over at her blog for more examples of her lovely work.

15 Responses to Imagery – A Critique
  1. sandra
    December 21, 2011 | 4:01 am

    I don’t consider myself a “real” writer just like I don’t consider myself a “real” artist but I surely do like to write and paint! So I blog! I like writing that has a message and speaks to my emotions, something that inspires me. Inspiration is fuel for me. With it I am on fire. Without it I can get rather flat. Thanks.

    • angela
      December 21, 2011 | 6:02 am

      Inspiration is truly the key. Well, and practice, at least for me ;)

    • Ash
      December 22, 2011 | 6:55 am

      I think “real” comes the Velveteen Rabbit way – you love to write and paint, that makes you a real writer and a painter. Enjoy keeping your inspiration alive.

  2. Ash
    December 21, 2011 | 4:35 am

    Like Christmas morning to jump out of bed with anticipation of your thoughts!

    Thank you kind friend for liking them. It was an act of therapy to write. The woman in this story is based upon someone dear to my heart right here in non-fictionland – a loveletter to her, of sorts. I desperately want her to know that one day, a gentleman will treat her right, in all ways.

    Now, will someone put a “?” after “Who knew it still could” – the ex-copy editor in me is starting to get the twitches.

    XO Angela – Ash

    • Cameron
      December 21, 2011 | 5:41 am

      I got your “?” Can’t have you all twitchy.

      Thanks for offering yourself up!

    • angela
      December 21, 2011 | 5:44 am

      Your friend is lucky to have someone like you who wants this so badly for her :) I can’t do a post-edit once it’s up here, but we’ll get your ? fixed ;)

  3. Ash
    December 21, 2011 | 6:10 am

    Thanks guys (:

    Ahhhhhhh. Now it’s just Christmas panic causing the twitching.

  4. Jackie
    December 21, 2011 | 8:44 am

    This was one of my favorite pieces from that prompt! I really liked how she led us but let our imagination go where it wanted… I’m guessing that many of us went in similar directions too!

    Great job on the piece & congrats on being featured!

    • angela
      December 21, 2011 | 6:02 pm

      Yes. I loved that there was so much left to the imagination.

    • Ash
      December 22, 2011 | 7:09 am

      Thank you so much Jackie. It touches my cold writer’s blocked heart that you remember my words!

  5. Nancy C
    December 21, 2011 | 9:43 am

    Standing ovations across the board. Ash, for always making me hold my breath. Angela, for stating exactly why.

    Christmas comes early when I read the words of you two.

    • angela
      December 21, 2011 | 6:02 pm

      Thanks so much Nancy. It was a stunning piece. And I got to hang out with Dave Matthews in my head all day.

    • Ash
      December 22, 2011 | 7:15 am

      XO my sweet friend. Thank you.

  6. PW Creighton
    December 22, 2011 | 5:43 am

    I’m a strong advocate for taking the same techniques used to create the perfect visual composition in writing. Perfecting the visual composition makes it easier to create the 1:1 connection between the audience and the piece. Good post.

    • angela
      December 22, 2011 | 10:53 am

      I’m glad you liked the post! Imagery is one of my favorite parts of writing, and it’s something I’m really attracted to when I’m reading.