Visualize the Scene

visualizeLearning seems to come harder for me as I get older. Over and over I’ve heard the mantra, “Visualize your scene.” But I forget it every time. I jump with both feet into my plot. I don’t even know my characters well. I just throw them in the scene and see what happens.

writer

Ed

It’s a terrible way to write. I take my work to my writing group, a friendly bunch, but oh are they tough. Again and again people say the same thing to me: Visualize your scene. Use the five senses. I have to do a lot of rewriting.

I teach the same advice. I teach that you should get to know your character before you write, that you should see each scene in your head and know what your characters are feeling. You would think I could follow my own advice.

One member of my writing group suggested that I write in layers, like—scene first with plot, then character work, then write in the sensual material. One layer after another.

Who was the famous writer who said something to the effect that it’s one thing to say it’s raining outside and quite another to make your readers feel wet.

I’m a bit lost. Any suggestions?

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11 responses to “Visualize the Scene

  1. Pffft consider it like baking, you got the cake and it just needs frosting.. how thick that frosting is and how many flowers/colors added is a Very wide variable.

  2. That is a tough problem, but at least you recognise where you may be lacking. I guess, what you should try and do is write a monologue for your main character – not to use in your story, just as an exercise to know your character better and get into the habit of doing it. I absolutely love ‘it’s one thing to say it’s raining outside and quite another to make your readers feel wet’ but unfortunately don’t know the author. I guess it talks about showing and not telling, which will make your writing more vivid. The best thing when you feel like you’re lacking in a certain area in writing, for me, is just to try a few exercises that work particularly on that point. Don’t worry about plot, conflict etc, just for that one page, work on visualising a scene and bring it to life and see the things you went through in order to make it work.

    Thanks for sharing, and again, that is a brilliant quote 🙂

    ~ JLT

  3. Perhaps your passion for writing lies *within* your own method. The addiction may well be the anticipation of your characters revealing themselves to you. Writing is both art and craft. I see nothing wrong with indulging the passion of creativity. 🙂 Sorry, I am of no help!
    Heather, on the left side of the Peanut Gallery. 😀

  4. I think you’re writing just the way you should, Ed: in layers, as someone has already suggested to you. maybe I think this because I often find myself adding visual detail at the 8th draft stage. Hey, why not!
    Thanks so much for following me on twitter. My old dial up won’t hardly let me on anymore; however, I am going over to Broadband in early June, then I’ll be on every day and will be able to follow you.

  5. Pingback: Character Depth « Fantasy In Motion·

  6. I think I have the opposite problem… I often jump in with the scene without much happening. I write at http://www.showmeyourlits.com which is a fantastic site! 🙂 There are voting polls and there are six categories: Best flash, narrative voice, setting, dialogue, title, characterisation… It’s really hard to try and fulfil the expectations of all of these things! Maybe if plot isn’t a problem for you, you should experiment with character sketching/scene setting for a while without worrying about full blown stories…?

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