As writers, we all struggle the most with bringing out how a character sees, perceives, smells, or feels. New writers often lag due to too much telling and too little showing. The rich imagery, the true essence, and a three-dimensional physical presence of everything around a character are what we find ourselves most entwined in.
‘Show, don’t tell’ isn’t just a phrase to embellish your writing. It’s a way for readers to connect with your characters and the story. It’s a way for the readers to be around them and in the midst of the story. It’s a way for the readers to live the story your characters are living and you lived as the author of it.
Now, we often find ourselves in the dilemma of how to show more and tell less, or at least maintain a balance between the two. Each writer writes to improve and weave the stories for the world to get lost into and come out as if it lived them.
I have prepared a list of more than 300 example sentences that are going to come handy when you find yourselves struggling with how to write about someone and something.
Before I begin, understand that there are different types of imagery in literature.
Types of Sensory imagery in literature:
1. Visual Imagery in Literature
The visual imagery appeals to our sense of sight. The author uses similes, metaphor, and personification in the descriptions to narrate what he wants his readers to see.
Visual Imagery Literary Examples:
I wandered lonely as a cloudI Wandered Lonely as a Cloud, William Wordsworth’s (1804)
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.
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2. Auditory Imagery in Literature
The auditory imagery appeals to our sense of sound. It may include pleasant and unpleasant descriptions of sounds. Some authors also use words that imitate sounds to create the auditory experience for readers.
Auditory Imagery Examples:
Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?To Autumn, John Keats (1820)
Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,
While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day,
And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;
Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
Among the river sallows, borne aloft
Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
The red-breast whistles from a garden-croft;
And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.
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3. Olfactory Imagery in Literature
The olfactory imagery appeals to our sense of smell by describing something the narrator or protagonist inhales. It may include off-putting odours, pleasant fragrances, and other familiar scents.
Olfactory Imagery Literary Examples
They silently inhaleRain in Summer, H.W. Longfellow
the clover-scented gale,
And the vapors that arise
From the well-watered and smoking soil
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4. Gustatory Imagery in Literature
The Gustatory imagery appeals to our sense of taste by describing something the narrator or protagonist tastes. It’s most effective when the author describes a taste a reader might have experienced before so they can recall it from their memory.
Gustatory Imagery Literary Examples
O how can it be that the ground itself does not sicken?
How can you be alive you growths of spring?
How can you furnish health you blood of herbs, roots, orchards, grain?
Are they not continually putting distemper’d corpses within you?
Is not every continent work’d over and over with sour dead?
Where have you disposed of their carcasses?This Compost, Walt Whitman (1856)
Those drunkards and gluttons of so many generations?
Where have you drawn off all the foul liquid and meat?
I do not see any of it upon you to-day, or perhaps I am deceiv’d,
I will run a furrow with my plough, I will press my spade through the sod and turn it up underneath,
I am sure I shall expose some of the foul meat.
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5. Tactile Imagery in Literature
The tactile imagery appeals to our sense of touch by describing something the protagonist feels on their body. It may include the feel of different physical sensations, temperatures, and textures.
Tactile Imagery Literary Examples:
When glided in Porphyria; straightPorphyria’s Lover, Robert Browning (1836)
She shut the cold out and the storm,
And kneeled and made the cheerless grate
Blaze up, and all the cottage warm
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6. Kinesthetic Imagery in Literature
Kinesthesia is used as a poetic device that gives a feeling of natural, or physical bodily movement or action (like breathing, heartbeat, and a pulse).
Kinesthetic imagery Literary Examples
A sudden blow: the great wings beating stillLeda and the Swan, W.B. Yeats (1923)
Above the staggering girl, her thighs caressed
By the dark webs, her nape caught in his bill,
He holds her helpless breast upon his breast.
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7. Organic Imagery in Literature
Organic imagery pertains to personal experiences of a character’s body, including emotion and the senses of hunger, thirst, fatigue, and pain.
Organic is essentially the hardest of all the types of imagery. Depicting the feelings through the actions is what Organic imagery deals with. Writers often feel daunted by how to project emotions on the page to the reader. Don’t Worry, I have got the Samples to help you with. I am going to go feeling by feeling (the important ones) and show you how you can show your readers what your character feels:
Organic imagery Literary Examples:
So was I once myself a swinger of birches.Birches, Robert Frost’s (1916)
And so I dream of going back to be.
It’s when I’m weary of considerations,
And life is too much like a pathless wood
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I understand there is also a thing called ‘too much showing’. And to maintain a balance between too much showing and too much telling, we, the writers, need to know the scenes where showing is required and how much we should show. The above-given examples are completely at your disposal. Do make their use and your writing impressive!