Some writers spend extended amounts of time on settings and scenic descriptions. That is a true luxury for those with plenty of time to write, create and truly color the images and scenes. We working writers have the will to write but must do so after a 9 to 5 or in between breaks.
Therefore, the descriptions of images and scenes are somewhat limited. However, I would like to share three scenes filled with imagery and see if they meet the goal of developing a pictorial image in the mind of the reader. First, we see Phoenix’s aunt’s beloved rose bushes from A Golden Leaf in Time Revised.
“Later, after having breakfast, they sat out in the greenhouse and continued to relax and talk. Her aunt shared the beauty of patience as she nurtured her beloved flowers as they grew. She had an abundance of crape myrtles, which she explained came from the Natchez area. She talked about her dogwood flowers, which had to be cut back to avoid them from growing into trees. She pointed to her honeysuckle plants and told Phoenix that they grow easily. She said that she often cut off some pieces and put them in water to give the house a pleasant aroma. And lastly, she talked about her special rose bushes. She was especially proud of her sweetheart roses, which she spent time cutting back as they relaxed in the backyard.”
Phoenix is able to forget her current concerns as she listens to her aunt’s melodious voice describe her garden. It shows how the aesthetics of nature can calm the soul.
In another scene, Phoenix drives from the impoverished neighborhood where she works to a more affluent community where she resides. She makes this drive daily and the reader gets a sense of the change in scenery as she heads home, closer to the center of town.
“As she drove from the library, she could see the broken glass, broken windows, and boarded-up businesses, all representatives of broken dreams. As she got closer and closer to the university area, the streets widened, the houses became neater and more prosperous, and the shrubbery became more beautiful. Such is life, she thought. The haves and the have-nots. Low self-esteems and high self-esteems. The dichotomy of life. But, she thought, you can only help those who will receive it.”
Some writers write detailed descriptions of landscapes almost to a fault. If I had the time to write a long work of fiction with 300 to 500 pages, I would still limit my time spent on scenes and imagery. I would not want to put the reader to sleep. I want to activate their imaginations because to me, reading is personal. Readers have their own painted images in mind of how things look as they read a literary work.
Sometimes, when books become movies, some of the imagination is distorted because the reader may have imaged a scene or person one way and the script and actors give it another. Yet, that is a discussion for another time.
In one last scene, we see Trey running on a jogging path at the pace of a mad man after a heated argument with his girlfriend, Flora.
“He threw on his jogging suit and running shoes and took an extra jacket. Though the weather was brisk, he took the elevator down, walked over to the lakefront, and broke into a breakneck speed as though something or someone was chasing him. He ran and ran until other more regular-paced joggers looked at him as he passed. They could detect that he had the momentum of a person with a problem. He did indeed!’….
He found a patch of grass and sat down as he panted. Tears rolled down, and they seemed endless. They would not stop. He had his back to the streets because he did not want anyone to witness a grown manin crying mode. He was glad that he had a neck towel around his neck,which also served as a handkerchief. He let it all hang out and threw in all reasons for crying, such as missing his mother, having to marry Flora, and the possibility of losing his job. He waited for the pain to subside, and when he felt stronger, he walked over to a rock. He sat and looked out over the horizon feeling shipwrecked.”
So, even though we working writers must, “tell thy story quickly,” as Macbeth said, we still strive to create enough images, imagery and scenes to pique our readers’ interest. The bottom line is, “Can you see it in your mind’s eye?” In this age of high-tech, fast-moving environs, sometimes ‘less is more!’
Lynn September 13, 2014