What's your favorite part about reading? Is it that you're transported to foreign lands from your couch? Or, do you like meeting new people in the form of fictional characters?
Either way, part of the magic of reading is the imagery that our favorite authors spark out of thin air. With the right words and the proper literary techniques, images are painted in our minds. It's a kind of magic, really. So, let's explore some examples of imagery and see how many new worlds await us.
Masterful writers can draft an image on paper and set it before the reader in three-dimensional charm. All of a sudden, we're transported to a thatched-roof cottage with blazing embers crackling in the fire. Or, maybe we're in a futuristic world aboard stainless steel alien aircrafts. Writing is a true talent because it doesn't require a big screen to promote an image.
Let's take a look at some of the masters in literature.
Pip, the hero of Great Expectations by Charles Dickens, clearly paints a wet and soggy scene. Not only was he soaked down to the bone, but he had to struggle through the fog that made things invisible for a time.
It was a rimy morning, and very damp. I had seen the damp lying on the outside of my little window… Now, I saw the damp lying on the bare hedges and spare grass… On every rail and gate, wet lay clammy; and the marsh-mist was so thick, that the wooden finger on the post directing people to our village-a direction which they never accepted, for they never came there-was invisible to me until I was quite close under it.
No one can deny J.K. Rowling is a master of imagery. She created entire worlds that burst off the pages. In this example from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, Neville is describing the first time he performed magic. We travel with him through this extreme scene, from his dangling out a window to his joy in pleasing his family members.
Great Uncle Algie came round for dinner, and he was hanging me out of an upstairs window by my ankles when my Great Auntie Enid offered him a meringue and he accidentally let go. But I bounced -- all the way down to the garden and into the road. They were all really pleased, Gran was crying, she was so happy.
The Chocolate War is a beloved young adult novel by Robert Cornier reputed for its extensive use of imagery. The way the chocolates are described, they seem less than appetizing, right down to the purple ribbon. They've been stored under the best conditions since last spring? Yuck!
"[…] these are Mother's Day chocolates. […] I was - able to pick them up at a bargain price. [They're] in perfect condition, […] stored under the best of conditions since last spring. All we have to do is remove the purple ribbon that says Mother and we're in business."
If you'd like to study the craft a little further, here are 14 more books to consider for their beautiful imagery.
If you are a fan of music, then imagery surrounds you in songs. Many people agree that songs are but poetry set to music. If you think this statement is true, then it could be said the verses in your favorite songs are a good place to start when looking for samples of imagery in everyday works.
Whether you like hip-hop, pop, rock and roll, country, or soul, music is as good a place as ever to find samples of imagery. Let's explore a few particularly grabbing song lyrics.
John Mayer croons about a relationship that's about to die. He sings:
We're goin' down and you can see it too
We're goin' down and you know that we're doomed
My dear, we're slow dancing in a burnin' room
He makes it pretty easy to imagine a forlorn couple slow dancing in a room that's about to engulf them in flames. The imagery denotes a dying or doomed relationship. One would rarely stop to slow dance in a room that's aflame. So, perhaps this love lost is enough to finish off the star-crossed lovers.
Love him or hate him, Eminem is another master lyricist. He released a single with talented songwriter Ed Sheeran titled "River." It's also about a severely flawed relationship. While "Slow Dancing In a Burning" room created a slow, if not ominous, image, Eminem creates a frantic, if not crazed, image. One verse goes like this:
Always the bridesmaid, never "The bride, hey!"
What can I say? If life was a highway
And deceit was an enclave, I'd be swerving in five lanes
Speeds at a high rate, like I'm slidin' on ice, maybe
That's why I may have came at you sideways
Swerving across a five-lane highway? Coming at someone sideways? Each of these images creates a frenzied image. Surely, things are about to escalate, and not for the better.
Did you know Steven Tyler crossed over into country in 2016? He wrote or co-wrote nearly every song on his album We're All Somebody from Somewhere. Clearly, some woman got under his skin, judging by the imagery stirred up in these "Love Is Your Name" lyrics:
Catch your wind from heaven
Send them while I'm sleeping
Wake me with the morning sun
I'll dream of you until you come
Rather than a house going up in flames or a crash across a five-lane highway, Tyler evokes images of breezes from Heaven, waking with the morning sun, and dreaming sweet dreams. The tone of these words is deliberately happy and hopeful.
Of course, imagery abounds in everyday life too. A friend might call and tell you about her romantic dinner in Manhattan last night. Your father might recall his major win at the poker tables in Vegas many years ago.
While literature and music can paint a vivid picture, so can everyday life. Let's take a look at various examples of imagery summed up in a single sentence, including several examples of similes.
He felt like the flowers were waving hello.
The F-16 swooped down like an eagle after its prey.
The lake was left shivering by the touch of morning wind.
The pot was as red as a tongue after a cherry-flavored ring pop.
The music coursed through us, vibrating through our bodies as if it came from within.
The giant tree was ablaze with the orange, red, and yellow leaves that were beginning to make their descent to the ground.
If you ever find yourself wondering where you can find good imagery examples, just turn on some music or pull out a book or magazine. Or, if you dream of writing a short story or novel someday, then imagery will be your truest friend. Enjoy these descriptive text examples and imagery in poems for more inspiration!