12 Oct 2013

How to use Imagery in Your Own Writing

This is for anyone who is struggling with creative writing. Here are some examples using semantic fields, sensory language, metaphors and similes.
Imagery means 'word-pictures'. You're painting a picture for the reader which should include a strong mood or atmosphere. 
Imagery Examples

[1] The mist swirled, dark as sulphur. People struggled through it like ghosts or half-people, drowning. They clutched at their coats and each other, at the walls as if the world might tilt them into nothing.

[2] Sunlight cast gold through the forest, flowers lit brilliant in the puddled light: emerald leaves, pale ruby flowers.

[3] I stabbed at the earth, hacking into its bowels, pulling out worms like streamers or intestines, writhing, half dead, half alive, pink and disgusting.

[4] Rain silvered the air, whitening the fields and trees and houses until it was a ghost-world, colour faded as with too much washing.


[5] Skeleton trees arched along the horizon, drawing sharp nails across the sky streaking it faintly bloody.

This is a short piece I wrote to create a sense of character. See if you can spot the similes, and the way in which I develop the same ideas throughout.
Remember, when you're describing a person, don't just describe what they look like! You also need to use semantic fields, interesting describing words. As in a description of place - it helps if something is happening! 


His hair is the colour of wet sand when the tide’s just gone out, his eyes blue, not wildflowers, or melted ice, but deep and dark as the dog days of summer. His milky skin is dotted with tiny specks of freckles, imperfect, so perfectly new.

When we stand together he’s almost as tall as me, his eyes level with the middle of my nose. He bounces at me and suddenly we’re wrestling. A pink strip flashes across his cheeks. He fiercely wants to beat me, lift me like I used to lift him. For a second, I’m hovering ten centimetres in the air. Then we both fall over, laughing in the cushions.


His new favourite thing is bowling, overarm. We practised together, throwing ball after ball after ball and he’d bounce them off my shoulder, my head, my nose, at first. We squint into the sloping summer light, dipping late in the evening, still until gradually he begins to hit the wicket. Every time. It feels good.

The author, , is an Oxford graduate, outstanding-rated English Language and Literature teacher and of ages 10-18 in the British education system. In 2012, she was nominated for Pearson's Teaching Awards. As a private tutor, she raises grades often from C to A. Her writing is also featured in The Huffington Post. She offers private tuition in the Haywards Heath area, West Sussex.