What good is a book without imagery? Something to engage your senses and make you sit up and beg for more. No, not that type of imagery, although it has it’s place and purpose.
I’m talking about the descriptive phrase. The words that make you feel what the characters feel, see what they see and sometimes even taste their unbrushed breath (how was that for an image?).
Imagery helps you connect with the characters. It makes them relatable so you, the reader, can sink further into the world the writer has created for you out of their gin-soaked imagination.
(Disclaimer: not all writers are gin-soaked. Some are whisky-soaked instead, but whisky-soaked doesn’t flow as well off the tongue so we don’t like to mention it.)
Well done imagery gives enough detail the reader can interject their own knowledge and imagination onto the page without interfering with the writers vision. Meaning it creates almost a symbiotic relationship between the words on the page and the image in the reader’s mind. Sort of like clownfish and anemones but without the risk of death, one cannot exist without the other. (ok that’s an oversimplification but work with me here)
It is possible to go overboard with imagery. I adore Tolkien but good lord does he drone on and on about places and things. It’s imagery overload and I don’t know about you, but I wind up skimming a lot when reading his books. Especially the trip from Bree to Weathertop. A more dismal example of imagery gone awry I can’t produce off the top of my head.
So keep your descriptors reined in sharply and allow the reader to add a bit of themselves to the story. You’ll thank me for it later.