Words into pictures

This month I’m working with a very helpful companion.

It’s a book called Writing Irresistible Kidlit and author Mary Cole covers everything you need to know about creating fiction for middle grade and young adult readers. Mary talks a lot about the power of imagery.

‘With every word,’ she writes, ‘you are painting an image inside your reader’s head.’

Her advice includes ignoring clichés and searching for new ways of saying something.

The ‘new ways’ bit sounds difficult to me. But not, I’m sure, impossible.

Adjectives can be useful, but does anyone else run into a dead end (whoops, cliché) when they try to think of the perfect description of a blue sky, for example. ‘Cornflower blue’ conjures up a perfect day, but the phrase has been used lots of times in some of the books and stories I’ve read.

A ‘delphinium sky’ is more original, but doesn’t seem to epitomise summer in the same way.  I have plenty of borage plants in the garden at the moment, with dainty blue flowers. I’m sure you’ll agree that a ‘borage sky’ sounds a tad peculiar. I’ll have to keep working on that one!

Mary Kole stresses that imagery can be particularly effective when we use similes and metaphors, especially if they are new and fresh.

Just to remind you – a simile is a figure of speech that directly compares two things. For example:

He has eyes like a hawk.

Her life was like a box of liquorish allsorts.

‘There was a quivering in the grass which seemed like the departure of souls.’ Victor Hugo

A metaphor is a figure of speech that directly refers to one thing by mentioning another for rhetorical effect. For example:

You are my sunshine.

Laughter is the music of the soul.

‘I tom-peeped across the hedges of years, into wan little windows.’ Vladimir Nabokov

I’m making July my personal Similes and Metaphors Month. I’ll be looking out for them in the novels and stories I read, and working on them as I give my book its first edit.

Note to self: Must carry notebook everywhere I go, in case a diamond of an idea pops into my head when least expected!



Rogues are welcome in this garden. You didn’t include me in that broomstick statement, did you?