How to See

Sometimes stories don’t need words to be poignant. Like this short animation.

The imagery evokes the imagination. We can see the world unfold around her through sound, touch, and smell. We know that her world is completely in her mind, so she can be wearing a wizards outfit if she likes. The airplanes can be big whales swimming through the clouds. It’s all in our perceptions.

It also shows that she is a happy and cheerful little girl. If she had been scared the imagery would have been darker. The colors pale, brown, or black. Instead we see bright waves of color, and fantastic creatures.

In this little film, with only one word ever spoken, we get a glimpse of her personality, her imagination, and her faith in her little dog. It truly is good story telling.

This actually touches on a lesson I learned in high school. One of my english teachers took out a lot of pictures and lined them up around the room. She then had us write something about one of the pictures using everything except sight.

I think I wrote about a picture of a canyon. The mottled colors of red, orange, and brown, the blue sky peeking out between them still seems fresh in my mind. I remember thinking of whistling winds, and textures of rock. The cool smoothness of the walls, and rough ground cracking beneath your feet.

“How does a blind man see color?” she asked us. “How do you describe chocolate to a person who has never tasted it?”

Many writers take for granted that those reading our stories know where we are coming from. And this convention actually keeps the stories going. If you had to stop every ten words and explain to your reader exactly what you were talking about you probably wouldn’t get very far. Being able to say “She walked up to the door in her red pumps and knocked,” knowing that your audience will know what red, pumps, and a wooden door is, allows you to concern yourself with the story, and not the technicalities of language.

However, it is always good practice to describe a scene without using sight. If you can add the smells, sounds, textures, and feelings of a place, then you are reaching a little farther, drawing your reader in a little deeper, and truly making something we can lose ourselves in.


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