How Writers Help Readers Build Their Imagination

Albert Einstein believed imagination was more important than knowledge because someone with a good imagination had the ability to not only discover but create.

As a writer, your job is to flood the reader’s mind with specific images. Enough to make them stretch their imagination.

Quite often you hear the argument that film adaptations are better than books. This is because moving images are easier for the brain to decipher. Reading a book is harder when there are no visual images. The reader must work everything out for themselves and often create unique characters inside their own minds. If they don’t have much imagination they can struggle to grasp the most basic concept of a story.

As a writer, you can ignite the imagination with description. When writing, visualise your characters in a way that gives your reader room to create their own mental images.


How Do You Do This?

You do this by selecting the words you write. Your reader forms a picture as each sentence is absorbed by their brain. You must create an emotional connection to your characters. If it’s good enough, the reader will keep turning the page.

Stimulate the imagination of your reader with carefully crafted words. Drip feed detail to keep your reader involved with the characters and storyline. You want them to identify with the protagonist whether they love or loathe them. From the colour of their eyes to the cut of their coat. It’s down to you to get it right.

As a new writer, you may be tempted to supply every detail of your character’s development. But too much information is as bad as too little. Give the reader titbits. Enough description that satisfies their needs but not so much that they want to skip a paragraph or even a page or two.

How it Works

Paint a picture with gentle strokes. Don’t wade in with lots of purple prose. Here’s an example of getting it right: Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea.

‘He was an old man who fished alone in a skiff in the Gulf Stream and he had gone eighty-four days now without taking a fish.’

Hemingway’s opening sentence captures the scene perfectly. The protagonist’s age and gender are clearly defined and you visualise him sitting in a boat all alone in the middle of the sea.

What’s in it for the Reader?

Reading stimulates the brain. It creates a long-term muscle memory allowing the task to be performed without conscious effort. Reading brings tranquility which helps the mind and body. Tensed up muscles are relaxed and pain can often ease.

Reading provides you with knowledge. Something nobody can take from you.




One comment on “How Writers Help Readers Build Their Imagination

  1. Pingback: New Writers looking for Guidance – Patricia M Osborne

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