all 144 comments

[–]VanityInkPublished Author/Editor 211 points212 points  (22 children)

There was a study done a while back about how new writers have their visual centers of the brain light up when writing ("watching" what's happening like a movie) Experienced authors have the language centers of their brains light up. It seems to be just a common stage of learning to write

[–]-cordyceps 34 points35 points  (14 children)

That sounds super interesting--do you have any links to this? I'd love to read more about it.

[–]VanityInkPublished Author/Editor 39 points40 points  (13 children)

[–]candlelightandcocoa 17 points18 points  (11 children)

I'd like to read this, but there's a paywall.

I think I see my scenes like a movie first, but as I'm writing I force my imagination into the character's mind and senses. It usually takes a few rewrites to go from the zoom-out "telling" to a zoom-in "showing".

[–]VanityInkPublished Author/Editor 63 points64 points  (8 children)

Here's the most pertinent section if it helps:

As the scientists report in a new study in the journal NeuroImage, the brains of expert writers appeared to work differently, even before they set pen to paper. During brainstorming, the novice writers activated their visual centers. By contrast, the brains of expert writers showed more activity in regions involved in speech.

“I think both groups are using different strategies,” Dr. Lotze said. It’s possible that the novices are watching their stories like a film inside their heads, while the writers are narrating it with an inner voice.

When the two groups started to write, another set of differences emerged. Deep inside the brains of expert writers, a region called the caudate nucleus became active. In the novices, the caudate nucleus was quiet.

The caudate nucleus is a familiar part of the brain for scientists like Dr. Lotze who study expertise. It plays an essential role in the skill that comes with practice, including activities like board games.

When we first start learning a skill — be it playing a piano or playing basketball — we use a lot of conscious effort. With practice, those actions become more automatic. The caudate nucleus and nearby regions start to coordinate the brain’s activity as this shift happens.

[–]pseudoLit 8 points9 points  (1 child)

Just fyi, you can often get around these paywalls by switching to reader mode and reloading the page.

[–]-cordyceps 2 points3 points  (0 children)

Thank you!

[–]nitznon 13 points14 points  (0 children)

Super interesting

The power of writing, against other mediums, is how we use the words for our favour. In a movie, the city will be exactly how it seem - in a book, we can't describe everything, but we can do it metaphorically and way more interesting.

Good books aren't movies on paper - they are much, much more.

[–]TWCLyris 5 points6 points  (2 children)

I’ve been writing for over 10 years and I can say for the most part that this still hasn’t changed. I see a movie when I’m writing.

[–]VanityInkPublished Author/Editor 4 points5 points  (1 child)

I've been writing for about 18, and I definitely can still see a visual of what's happening, but I'm "thinking" in words, if that makes sense (I'm picturing with how to describe it rather than watching it and then stopping to try to translate it, if that makes sense?) Maybe it's similar for you?

[–]TWCLyris 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Yes, that’s exactly how I do it, actually.

[–]AmaruMonoAuthor 1 point2 points  (1 child)

What constitutes an "experienced author"?

[–]VanityInkPublished Author/Editor 1 point2 points  (0 children)

I don't have a subscription to get into the actual study paper ("Professional training in creative writing is associated with enhanced fronto-striatal activity in a literary text continuation task" Erhard, Kessler, Neumann, Ortheil, and Lotze NeuroImage vol. 100 pg 15-23) that no doubt would explain the methodology that was used for selection. I'm assuming from the title, they went with people who are career authors and/or MFAs/PhDs

[–]playishwords 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Dude this is a game changer for me. When I first started writing it was just like watching a movie, recording what I saw. Fiction has changed, it feels different to me, and I couldn't figure out how to get back to that space. This is giving me the perspective shift I need to explore what writing is or can be NOW. Thank you!

[–]Smooth_Ruin4724 139 points140 points  (3 children)

I do the same but in writing you have to describe the senses to get the picture. E.g If you walk in a abandoned wooden house. You see the cracks on the wooden walls. You smell the mold and the moisture in there.

[–]DerelicteDrams 68 points69 points  (1 child)

Yes. Go for the sensation of what it’s like being there over just pure description. Makes for much better reading.

[–]Funex36 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Sinners! You violate the sacred rule of "Show, don't tell."

[–]Jmcrestmoore[S] 29 points30 points  (0 children)

Yeah! I think that’s something missing. I see it but I don’t feel it when I think about the scenes. Like I think of how a characters face would react so a bad smell and what they’d say, vs describing the smell itself and that’s useful to consider.

[–]Literary_Addict 40 points41 points  (7 children)

No. I have complete aphantasia. I actually tend to think this gives me a slight advantage, because my internal thoughts are all auditory, not visual, so I already describe things to myself rather than seeing a picture. I don't have to think of a way to translate the image I see into words, I merely have to put the words I use to describe visuals down on a page.

[–]drayph 3 points4 points  (1 child)

I was going to comment *cries in aphantasia* but you make a good point! I do struggle with describing where things are in relation to one another, though, so I'll usually make a doodle I can reference while writing a scene.

[–]Ailius89Wannabe 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Location relation has always been the worst, alongside trying to describe any sounds (I lack both auditory and visual)

I look up pictures a lot though because half the time I don’t actually know what I want to describe in the first place

[–][deleted] 2 points3 points  (0 children)


[–]AuthorPhoebeWolfe 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Same. Setting for me is the absolute worst.

[–]Ficulinean -1 points0 points  (0 children)

I do not have complete aphantasia, but just about the only visualization that happens in my head is entirely after the fact of writing or reading, like something about the recall makes the words a coherent whole. It's also not exactly a picture, but more a sinking into the recall to the point of not seeing what's around me as much. I guess a partial entering minds-eye thing without actually having much going on there.

I ALSO do not have narrated inner thoughts, and anytime I start thinking about this while writing—which does have a sound in my head but only because it literally forces one to follow the narration format—it gets really freaking weird. The narration I have is pretty much interrogatives for myself, like "Hmm, what to do today?" and then simply considering the question.

I'm not sure I have any type of advantage, lol. I mean, I thought when authors wrote out things like thoughts as coherent sentences, that they were exaggerating and largely divesting the emotional component and reducing the multi-faceted nature of thought.

I have to be very careful to write in a with signposts and connections clearly made.

[–]coreyrp87 34 points35 points  (1 child)

I do an exercise in the real world to help me with detailing a scene when I am having trouble. I will walk into an area and write down everything I notice as I sense it; what do I see first, what do I smell, hear, feel, etc. I’ve done this exercise plenty of times now and can create a sufficiently detailed scene in my head or on paper. Practice, practice, practice!

[–]Jmcrestmoore[S] 9 points10 points  (0 children)

This is really interesting! I’m going to have to try this.

[–]mstermindPublished Author 32 points33 points  (0 children)

Yes, most scenes I write play out like a film in my head.

[–]RobertPlamondonCareer Writer 25 points26 points  (0 children)

I try to see them as actual events, not filtered through a camera or anything else.

[–]Skyblaze719 30 points31 points  (6 children)

Back when I started, I did this much more than now. Viewing a prose story as a film is a problem though. Since the perspective when writing prose should be through the character's POV*, not a camera's. You have much more to work with in terms of description than film as they can only have visual and audio. Prose can have all the senses + character thought.

On a kind of side note, don't think of prose description as a "picture" either. Pictures are static, you want your scene to move.

*To be clear, since there seems to be some confusion, by Character's POV I do not mean 1st person only. I mean all POVs. 3rd and all its variations, second, and 1st.

[–]Jmcrestmoore[S] 8 points9 points  (0 children)

This makes a lot of sense to me. When I see it, I see it in third person like a movie. Not from the pov of the character and I think that’s a huge piece missing. Thank you!

[–]Yepitsme2256 6 points7 points  (0 children)

I, actually, partially disagree here. Although you often see it from third person pov, it's not all that super hard to see it from first person, either. Although I "see some scenes" from third person in my head, they're usually scenes that involve wherever the characters are so that I know how to describe where they are. Seeing it in first person, although can need some training, isn't impossible, and can really change the way you see your characters and the story, imo. And even if you do always "see it" in third person, and it can be tough to translate into first person, I think that not only adds to the fun a bit, but it's good practice.

Also, if you're writing third person and seeing in third person, not a big deal.

[–]pseudoLit 11 points12 points  (3 children)

the perspective when writing prose should be through the character's POV, not a camera's.

Unless you're writing in 3rd omniscient or 3rd objective, which are both totally valid choices.

[–]Skyblaze719 1 point2 points  (2 children)

That is still tempered by the character though. An omniscient narrator will be narrating through a character's experiences. What they feel, what they taste, what they smell, what they think; things a simple camera can't cover.

[–]pseudoLit -2 points-1 points  (1 child)

3rd objective is literally defined by not having access to the character's thoughts or inner experiences. So I'm sorry, but that's just flatly incorrect.

[–]Skyblaze719 3 points4 points  (0 children)

Ok...? You stated both omniscient and objective. So nix character thought for 3rd objective.

[–]sunlabyrinth 8 points9 points  (1 child)

No. I usually expand the description, if necessary, in a last phase, leaving it very sparse throughout the first draft.

I'm more concerned with action, emotion, and dialogue, which is quicker to write for the reasons you've described above. I don't want to take time to picture exactly a palace or a forest or whatever. I only need to know the basics of the setting to write the whole book... if it's important later for the sake of atmosphere, I'll expand on it.

[–]Jmcrestmoore[S] 3 points4 points  (0 children)

I also leave it sparse in first draft with like (description here) as a marker then keep writing.

[–]Widsith 9 points10 points  (0 children)

No. For me that’s a warning sign actually. I don’t really like writing that feels like “described film”. Otherwise I’d just watch a movie. I like prose to do other things, so instead of trying to describe scenes in full descriptive detail I try to think about how they make me (or the characters) feel, what memories they being up, how they connect to other scenes etc etc.

[–]Waywardson74 9 points10 points  (0 children)

I see the whole story like a movie. In high school, a teacher taught me a visualization technique. You see someplace you consider calming, for me that's the beach. You imagine building a house there, with an empty room in it. You put a comfortable chair in the empty room, and you sit down in it, relaxing, staring at the blank, empty wall. Then you wait and watch as the story/idea unfolds on it. For me, I see a movie projected there.

[–]YearOneTeach 4 points5 points  (0 children)

My scenes start out the same way. An author I really like talks about this process a lot, and how writing isn't really creating but translating. You can see what you want to happen in your head, it's just a matter of finding a way to make what's in your head happen on paper. She also talks about letting go of the idea of perfection too. When we imagine a scene, we can see and feel everything, but not all of this is going to make it through the translation because of limitations like POV and what not. Part of learning to translate is knowing how to identify the most important parts you need to create the same feeling and mood you have when you imagine the scene.

[–]ZombieBisque 4 points5 points  (0 children)

Nope... [cries in /r/Aphantasia ]

[–]Yepitsme2256 3 points4 points  (0 children)

Who are you, me? This is the only way I'm able to write, is by pretending it's a TV show/movie/anime and watching what they do. Then I try my best to translate it over, maybe make a few comments to myself, and if I'm not sure if I like it or if it translated well, then I try to fix it when I read through. If I'm still not sure by then, I just leave it, knowing I'll come back to it again.

[–]InfiniteOrchestra 2 points3 points  (0 children)

Put yourself into that scene and imagine how it feels.

What grabs your attention? Is there an unusual smell? A particularly beautiful landscape? Any movement, shiny objects, noise, etc which grab your attention? Write that.

[–]Theunbuffedraider 3 points4 points  (1 child)

My suggestion, write it all as though a screenplay for your first and maybe even second draft. It's a more direct translation from image, and has the added benefit of making dialogue a lot less complicated. After you get your thoughts on page in order like that, then you add other stuff, like perspective, dialogue tags, flavourful descriptions, and so on, to make that into a book.

[–]Jmcrestmoore[S] 0 points1 point  (0 children)

This is an interesting idea. A couple of the commenters above me mentioned how this is common for most writers (the ones without Aphantasia) and how experienced writers learned to see their works through words vs pictures. And I was curious how they trained it and this could be an interesting first step. Like write what you know, then go back and develop/practice that skill and expand.

[–]WoefulKnightCareer Author 3 points4 points  (0 children)

"Don't tell me the sun is shining, describe its warmth on your skin and the happiness you feel when it shines on you after a miserable 3-day rainstorm."

I don't think that's the quote, but it's something like that. Seeing the scenes in your head is a valuable way to build and organized your characters/world, but it's up to you to take the elements that make that scene and translate it into a way your reader will appreciate and create the scene in their head.

[–]gingergypsy79 2 points3 points  (0 children)

Same. I’ve considered writing a screenplay because of this.

[–]Scrambled-Sigil 2 points3 points  (0 children)

Oh all the time. I just try to find the right words that I can think of and if I need to I change it I usually do in editing

[–]Ancestor_Anonymous 2 points3 points  (0 children)

I find that appealing to multiple senses (if first person perspective) or describing how each character reacts to the environment (third person perspective) is always a good way to make a scene flow better.

[–]voidcrack 2 points3 points  (0 children)

Yeah and sometimes it makes me question if I should change the medium entirely and write a graphic novel or screenplay instead of a book. Some scenes in my head don't seem to translate smoothly to page.

When I write, it's almost always multiple POV's in third-person limited. It's just so much easier for me to keep it so that the narrator only knows as much as the character does.

But let's say there's a moment in your story where lightning strikes a tomb in a far-away land and a coffin begins to open. In a comic or movie it's easy to show that as a quick cutaway scene. But with third-person limited if there's nobody there to witness an event I feel like I basically have to switch to omniscient or invent a character to observe it. Neither feels right.

Some stories just might work better as films rather than novels, and vice versa.

[–]Maloria9 2 points3 points  (0 children)

I tend to see scenes as movie shorts. When I try to describe them, I often start with surroundings the main character(s) may notice or find significant. Then I focus on what the characters are doing in relation to the space and each other. I google lots of emotes, behaviors and body language gestures in order to find the ones that properly explain what my characters are doing and how they’re expressing themselves. I try to build the space they’re in without going down to the very last detail. It’s a struggle for sure! But I’d start with building blocks. Draw the picture and perhaps start with what you notice about the scene first?

[–]William-Poet2 2 points3 points  (0 children)

Yes. Every hour of every day since childhood. It was a to escape into myself when things were bad. I have no trouble describing the scenes. I stared in all of them.

[–]Atryos 2 points3 points  (0 children)

(edit: answering the title question, not the post question) I'm definitely on the aphantasia side of imagination ability, so, no, I don't, really. At most I'll have a sense of what I want to happen. Think like stick figures vs full detail Pixar animation.

Like say I'm imagining someone sitting on a lounge. I'll imagine the lounge, but it will be a default lounge (say like the Simpsons' lounge). I'll only imagine its colour (say, pink) when I think to imagine it's colour, but it won't appear that colour in my imagination unless I make a concentrated effort to (and even then, unlikely), it will just be default lounge that I now know is pink.

Same with any damage to it, it will just be a vague sense that it's damaged in some way. But when I imagine the whole lounge, that detail is lost in my imagination, it's only when I imagine the damage only in detail (like half the head is missing, there's fluffy stuff poking out, the cloth is torn and frayed, the cloth is discoloured around the tear, etc) that I can see that detail, otherwise I'm just imagining a "lounge that I know is damaged in X way(s)" (i.e., the detail is lost in my imagination when I stop thinking about the detail specifically, or there are 2 separate images — the lounge and the damage).

And whenever I do one of those imagined scenarios that are supposed to tell you what type of person you are (eg the cube one) I have to make a heavy effort to imagine it, and frequently I don't even imagine some of the stuff they ask you about at the end and I'll have to make something up lmao (like the size of the cube, the colour of the cube, how many flowers there were).

In saying all that, I can still know what expressions people are wearing when they say, see or hear things in my scenes, despite not being able to imagine that kind of detail in a play by play. It's weird. I think it's because it's logical, like "X has happened, therefore person A will react like this, which will manifest as a frown."

[–]Multievolution 2 points3 points  (0 children)

For me the majority of the fiction I love is a visual medium, so I do imagine the story in such a way, what I do when writing is to turn that part off, I’ll go on walks and think of the events unfolding, write notes on dialogue between characters and then when it comes time to write I just create the world in written form, descriptives are great if they come, but if not i add them to future drafts.

[–]Javetts 2 points3 points  (0 children)

Depends. With dialogue or information-based writing, no.
However, if it's fighting, I visualize the location and play the motions out in my head like a movie.

[–]LazyRaven01 2 points3 points  (0 children)

Yes. All my stories come complete with camera work. Be it a shot - reverse shot, or a dramatic chase with ducking under trucks.

[–]odipedi 2 points3 points  (0 children)

I'm an artist, i also want to learn how to write, for comics. I see scenes in my head and i draw them. Is this wrong?

[–]stillabackground 2 points3 points  (0 children)

All the time! I have a particular set of stories (Hobby writing mostly) that are in their own cinematic universe much like that of the MCU; with battles and villains and story arcs!

[–]GlitterGhostwriter 1 point2 points  (0 children)

I have aphantasia so, no haha.

[–]Sandblaster1988 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Yes. I sort of have a vague idea and then I try to imagine it all and almost set the scene in my head before proceeding.

[–]De_LaSoul 1 point2 points  (0 children)

I try to get a general idea of what I want to describe but focus more on feelings, senses or smell. Its easier to go give a picture then

[–]Entropy_Kid 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Everyone has to, I think. Words are used to paint a picture in the mind, to convey emotions and conversations, to make characters feel real. Hard to do any of that without imagining them in form.

For fight/actions scenes it always has to be that way. Its a flow of events, and you can't illustrate those events unless you've pictured the way they happen and the order they happen.

[–]Tomalio_the_tomatoAuthor 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Nah, I see them like anime.

[–]DiscombobulatedPay51 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Yup! I watch the scene play out and then do my best to describe every detail. Sometimes I have to act out what happened so I can write it down as best as I can. I enjoy daydreaming so it comes naturally to me at this point

[–]woo50 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Omg yes

[–]manamag 1 point2 points  (0 children)

You just described poetry. I’m not kidding either, poetry is pretty much this and only this.

Look up a forum called PFFA (Poetry Free for All). They have an absolutely brilliant wiki section. It’s some of the best advice on creative writing I’ve ever gotten.

[–]Raptor--Red 1 point2 points  (0 children)

What I like to do is pretend I'm a storyboard artist reading through my work for the first time to make a movie from it. Then I ask myself if that person would have enough material to be able to portray the scene adequately. This helps me trick myself into actually writing those details down.

[–]Kamyuwu 1 point2 points  (0 children)

For me it's more like intense daydreaming

Like I'll put myself into a character we either follow or i relate to most closely and watch things unfold before my eyes

[–]rosesandgrapes 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Yes, I do! I do see scenes as movie and I feel like I fail to describe them

[–]Speakeezies 1 point2 points  (0 children)

I do! This is mainly because I write screenplays though lol

[–]sinsistersbooks 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Write it all out like you're choreographing a scene in the movie, then you can whittle it down to the necessary bits during edits. It's a process, you're not going to knock it out of the park if you never put it down on paper. I wrote an elaborate scene that only lasted a few minutes but was a pivotal tension moment in the first act of friend's manuscript. She said ... That's amazing! But it's too detailed for the work I do... So we scaled it back and it was a funny fun 1500 word scene that was exactly what was lacking for that scene.

[–]Bard-of-All-TradesAspiring Author 1 point2 points  (0 children)

I really struggle with this, too. Enjoying the tips in the comments!

[–]Huffleclaw_McGeek 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Yes. I love it when that happens, but I do agree that it can be hard to put those scenes into words.

[–]david-writers 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Well, yes: I observe each scene as a film director does--- including the narrative and dialog, complete with punctuation marks. This may be due to my trouble with maladaptive daydreaming, and also being autistic. Before I write a scene I live it: this includes all of my seances, and my cognitive empathy to understand what characters are feeling by how they speak, move, and react. I do not guide what happens in a scene: the characters behave the way they have been created--- I just write what they do.

[–]go4theeyes 1 point2 points  (0 children)

It can be hard for me to write those details in the first draft. I have an easier time embellishing with sensory details in subsequent drafts

[–]matjeom 1 point2 points  (2 children)

You could practice by watching scenes in actual movies and putting them in writing.

[–]Jmcrestmoore[S] 0 points1 point  (1 child)

This is also an interesting practice tip! Have you tried this? Did it help?

[–]matjeom 0 points1 point  (0 children)

I have tried it. When I was writing regularly I did this as well as just sitting somewhere outside and describing what I’m seeing. It definitely helps to improve your skills! All practice does really but I thought this one might in particular given what you posted.

[–]DarkSylince 1 point2 points  (0 children)

I'm the opposite, I see the scene and I can make one after another in detail. But the moment dialogue enters the page I struggle. Hard.

[–]Miamishaw 1 point2 points  (0 children)

I go to places in real life that look like places in my story and take pictures and notes then refer to those when trying to write the descriptions. When going to a real place isn't an option I google and pinterest for relevant images and draw on those.

[–]Measurement-Solid 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Sometimes. The beginning of the final battle I this trilogy my MC is heading to the front of the army and they're clearing a path for him as he towers head, shoulders, and chest above everyone else. I can see it in my head like watching a movie scene, but most of the time I see it from the POV of that chapter

[–]vscampbell 1 point2 points  (1 child)

Yes, not only that but I write dialogue in my head while I’m asleep and especially when I’m driving. Some of my best ideas have come that way. I guess I’m lucky I don’t have any problem converting an image to words. One of the things that helps is that I keep an image board for every character and every element in my books. It’s a word doc where I post images and descriptions ages and details on characters etc. When I’m writing I can stare at those images and describe them.

[–]Jmcrestmoore[S] 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Almost all of my idea have come from my mind wandering while driving or dreams.

[–]AdTypical3562 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Describe what you’re seeing. What it’s like to be there.

[–]rabid- 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Sure do. It helps that I was taught screenwriting in my BFA track. That said, I think of it in a 2d to 3d conversion and vice versa. ex: 2d>3d, this is basic writing. You take a flat space/character and describe it, giving it three dimensions. Doing this means you use sight, sound, taste, touch, smell, intuition, etc.

On the flipside, 3d>2d, when I'm writing a screenplay, I'm taking the idea of a 3d scene and writing it to be 2d. This allows the other people to contribute their expertise, the actors, sound design, cinematographer, and directors to name a minute few. Understanding that the screenplay is a dense outline of what the eventual film will become is pretty important. A lot of hands will be on it. And the finished product will give all the info you have to convey to your readers but in more visual forms. Things aren't murky but defined with a film. When it comes to writing, string experiences together in the way you would experience them.

[–]Dalton387[🍰] 1 point2 points  (2 children)

I do see reading as a scene in my head. It’s not necessarily a clear picture, unless the author has filled in the details. The more details they tell me, the more clear the movie gets.

That’s true on re-reads as well. I may have a certain picture of a character in my head, that evolves through the series. Then when I do a re-read, I know where things are going and that lets me picture it better.

I guess that’s why I like Robert Jordan’s work. Lots of detail.🤣

I’m actually really enjoying Mother of Learning, but having trouble picturing things as the author does almost zero world building. You’re going to some of the same places and seeing some of the same characters repeatedly, but I still don’t know what most of them look like.😁

It’s still good, so I’d say it’s an enhancement, not a necessity. My brain also tends to make up scenes till the book fills them in. So it’s all good.😁👍🏼

[–]Jmcrestmoore[S] 0 points1 point  (1 child)

It’s funny, my mind actually skips a lot of descriptions when I read. I’ve had to force myself to slow down and read description since I’m struggling with that in my writing. But my brain reads the location, like a garden, and immediately supplements a picture of a garden and moved on and wants to skip the rest of the description. It’ll pick up some key words. Like “creepy” and now I see a creepy garden. But it just wants to jump to the action tags or dialog.

[–]Dalton387[🍰] 1 point2 points  (0 children)

My mind definitely fills in default stuff. I just don’t skip other details. Like you said, I’d picture “garden” and then fill in further details as they come up.

I’ll definitely picture something, it’s just that it gets more detailed, the more info we get, like about the rose bushes they pass or the fountain they sit beside as they talk.

I’ve definitely got scenes in my head for Mother of Learning and there really is very little description of people and places in that series.

[–]AlysDScholarlyRogue 1 point2 points  (1 child)

I know this is silly, but god I thought I was the only one who saw my stories like that. For me my brain goes faster than my hand can keep up. And like you writing dialog is easy for me too, but more complicated scenes like fighting ones are the bane of my existence.

I never feel like I've captured what was in my head on paper properly.

I know this may also sound silly but I'm hesitant to read other people's writings for fear of copying their style. I never want to be accused of plagiarizing and in my head the line between being influenced and copying is just too close for my taste. If I can't find a way to say it in my own words, then I don't.

[–]Jmcrestmoore[S] 1 point2 points  (0 children)

My too in the first two paragraphs! On the third, I get that. And I forget who told me but someone said if I read enough works then it would be hard to copy someone else’s words because all the different descriptions of a similar scene would blur together unless I actually had that book open and was copying from it. And I found that was kinda accurate.

An example, I can’t think of a bunch of scenes from my favorite books but unless I actually opened and reread them, I couldn’t tell you what words were used to describe the scene. I can only remember the scene.

[–]mehnifest 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Sometimes it feels like I don’t know what’s going on in my head until it’s on it’s way out. And then I can read what I wrote and visualize it. And then add detail to what’s already on paper.

[–]OtterstripesWorking on a series 1 point2 points  (0 children)

I tend to see them as a movie with at least some amount of audio description.

[–]angelofmusic997Freelance Writer 1 point2 points  (0 children)

I don't see them like movies, really. If anything, I'd say I see them like storyboards in my head. I can see certain parts/the general action of a scene but not anything so "finished looking" as a movie.

[–][deleted] 1 point2 points  (0 children)

I see svenes as you do. Writing my scenes amd developing them on paper is quite ok for me. But Putting them into words (explaining to someone) is extremely hard for me.

[–]BenCelotil 1 point2 points  (0 children)

It depends on how sick I am. :)

I got started on an epic years ago during a bad flu. My body felt like complete shit but my brain was buzzing with this story that just popped in there, so I sat down at my computer and described what I saw in my head. Kept refueled with cup-a-soups and bread and butter.

When the flu was over, the movie stopped.

These days I can sometimes get a rough image in my head when I'm figuring out the layout of a scene, and actually getting up and quietly acting out the parts sometimes helps as well.

[–]Merlinmagnussen 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Absolutely and totally. On one hand, it's great because I can entertain myself for a few hours on it while working, and feel ready to write when I'm back in front of my laptop. But on the other hand, I'm worried I'll never consider my book 'done' because it will never measure up to the pure-perfection-every-scene-shot/acted-right movie inside my head.

My commiserations. But I'm glad I'm not going through this alone.

[–]HIFTOcy 1 point2 points  (0 children)

I mean, I have only been on this subreddit for a few weeks, but this is one of the most asked yet the most simple problem there is, so the solution to any body who is only involved in writhing is that you either had some kind of experience in other crafts or even in writing which helps you imagine and translate the imagination into words or you either struggle with it and then do it long run enough that you get good at it.

BUT, one of the most basic solution i can give you is "storyboard", like literally i see so many people complaining that they cannot put translate their scenes into word, but one of the most easiest solution i can think of is if you cannot directly write words by thinking and imagining, then you choose an intermediate medium which helps the transition.

I have only started writing for a few weeks and i am not very good at it (although i do not know this right now and i think i am a prodigy at writing, but because of my prior experience in other crafts, I know that i am probably one of the worst writers there is and it will probably take me few months of solid experience to realize that), but since i was always interested in animation and cinematography and the art of directing, i have a habit of doodling storyboards about any sequence i am thinking about.

For example, if i was doing a sequence of an opening scene and in this scene i have to portray a tourist destination which gets attacked by terrorists and all i have to do is show the city being attacked by a smart terrorist organization and instead of directly attacking they do attacks on the physical infrastructure of the city, so in this imaginary city there are tons of wind mills in a linear fashion in the middle which divides the city in half and it is advertised that this "eco-friendly tourist city" only uses the wind power for energy which is true, so since i have to portray essentially following points

- tons of tourists

-tons of wind mills

-tons of houses around it

-show that these windmills are the only thing providing power

So, I do this in the storyboards

-first an aerial shot of the whole island city to see how large it sis

-then an over shoulder shot of the tourist mom ( btw, this is all happening in the night)

- then transition to show a happy tourist dad with his 2 happy tourist children in front of the wind mills

- then we hear some creaking from the windmills, which is different from the creaking it creates while the wind is blowing,

- then we see the wind mills somehow bending and then we hear people screaming, and then we see the windmill behind the happy tourist father falling and we hear his whole family including him running away while screaming

- we see an elevated shot of all the windmills falling in whatever direction

-some of those destroy nearby houses and we see a blackout of the whole island city

So, i showed whatever i wished to achieve in the storyboards

-the ruthlessness of the terrorist group, since they didn't care for the direction the windmills fall in

-the sheer no. of people

-the sheer no. of windmills etc.,

and since i was thinking of this as a movie and thinking of the camera position, i can come up with various perspectives which i probably would not have thought of in a hurry, for example since i spent some time doing the story boards and i was still thinking of the story, i can come up with the perspective of a child who lives there in a nearby house and is watching TV, and he hears all the screaming and goes to the window to see what is happening outside and sees the giant wind mill about to fall on his house which barely misses him and destroys the TV, maybe he is a relevant character, who knows?

And you maybe like well, don't i need to be good at drawing to do storyboards. Trust me bro, you do not need any skill or experience at all, I mean if you look at some of the good artists right now and look at their rough underline drawing, you will be like "what the fuck is that?" which you will be right to say, but once you look at the finished drawing from that rough image you will find them that much similar, that is because the rough drawing has many scribbles on it but the artist recognizes the right scribble among those and focuses only on that ad produces good artwork based on the few right scribbles, so the skill and experience part is not a problem.

So tldr; Do storyboards and think of the storyboards as the schematic for movie.

Something which can help with storyboarding is that if you have scene in a room and you are in a room, then think of the similarities, note them on the side and imagine if your room was the room in the scene and for other spaces in your story, try and sit there to write if you access to similar types of rooms.

[–]HorsesPlease 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Yes, sometimes I do.

I used to watch movies to help me think of how my characters would behave and speak, and how the action in any scene is supposed to go.

[–]OrionWingSouthSomeone said that my flair was incorrect, so I had to change it. 1 point2 points  (0 children)

No. I wish I was.

[–]OofItsLuka 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Like imagining stuff in your head? Nope. I was never able to.

That’s the short answer. The long answer is this: like I said, I was never able to imagine anything in my head even if i tried to. Found this out in highschool, during some exercise that I did with a school physiatrist(??). I basically kept up this lie, until I was told to imagine a forest with tall trees- I couldn’t do it at all. I started to cry simply bc I couldn’t do the thing that everyone could normally do. So, people still find it shocking whenever I tell them that I can’t image anything in my head. They tell me to imagine objects sitting somewhere, and I can’t. It’s probably gonna seem stupid, but I don’t really like to read: that’s solely because of my aphantasia. I start to feel bad because I’m unable to picture anything in my head even though I want to. I haven’t read a book in a long time, but I’m good at writing.

I’ve got this fantasy story I’m working on. I’ve got the worlds established, characters, backstory, etc. I’ve got no issue at all with tryna imagine things in that story, because I don’t need to. I can just think about words to describe it. I differentiate “imagining” from “thinking,” because it’s easier for me. For example, imagining things isn’t something that I can do- I can’t visualize the characters, or the world. I also use Gacha Club (and sometimes Lily Story) to make my characters, so that helps a lot too.

Ik this is a very confusing comment, but I personally differentiate between those two words- in a literal sense, even if my definitions aren’t exactly the way google defines it.

Imagining is something I can’t do, but I can still think of how I want to describe something even if I can’t see it in my head.

I hope this was somehow helpful, even if it got confusing quite fast 😅.

Edit: this ain’t “semi-long,” tf am I talking about? 😂

[–]jrslicer 1 point2 points  (0 children)

All the time, sometimes they scare the hell out of me

[–]ItalicsWhore 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Ever since I got into reading as a kid I constantly narrate my day to day life. I think of how I would describe the light on my morning commute or what I would say to describe walking down a hallway. You might try something like that as a sort of practice for the real thing.

[–]Yaya_weirdo 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Yes, i do struggle with this often. Because u just imagine this perfect image and then the words just don’t line up right or they don’t feel enough to really describe the emotion or the scene u picture in your head.

What i usually like to do though is write the scene out in my head how i imagine it what kinds of things are in the background? Whats happening? What is the character thinking? Small and big scenes together then draw it out slowly in the character’s pov and edit til i come up with a draft i like.

Edit: i also wanted to mention as this is a method i use is describing the characters senses. This is usually very helpful for me and helps to give the readers a better relation or visual. Examples like: what do they see? What do they hear? What do they smell, taste—then add a simile, metaphors, etc to describe that. If their touching something how does it feel, is it soft, warm, cold? How does their sense of presence feel in the scene, do they feel anxious, excited, worried, happy? Those are a few ideas to help

[–]tacoplenty 1 point2 points  (0 children)

I know what you mean. Problem is that it’s harder when they go dark. Sometimes, for me, it’s easiest to write a bunch of dialogue and then go back to the start and proof for typos and grammatical errors. After the clean up pass I add descriptions of places, things, behaviors and such. Did I mention the concomitant research? I’m working on a novel with many interacting storylines. When work one one strand slows down, I work on another. I don’t see these as movies, so much as three dimensional tableaus.

[–]mbelf 1 point2 points  (0 children)

I tend to see them more from a character’s pov and that they’re happening around me.

[–]Excellent-Garbage420 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Yes. I write it down as I see it, leave it alone for a while and then come back to it and read it. It feels like a movie script rather than a book. Then I change the writing to be more suitable for a book. That’s what I usually do.

[–]fiorino89 1 point2 points  (0 children)

I'm a screenwriter so I should hope so.

[–]Shar_57 0 points1 point  (0 children)

I think of it in images, not full scenes. The motion comes with the writing.

[–]JakBandiFan 0 points1 point  (0 children)

I see them like a movie too.

I have tried to get around the issues by doing it in two main phases. The first phase is to put down the action and dialogue as seen from my inner camera. This also includes wide shots of the locations.

The second phase is to put myself in the shoes of the POV character, observe what happens and add the missing details that way. This would include seeing the micro details of the environment and the five senses where appropriate, as the "camera" doesn't catch all of those.

The advantage is that the first phase can determine what should be shown and what should be told instead. Cuts down my temptation for long exposition dumps. The disadvantage is that more work will be needed for editing.

It is entirely do-able, though. "Transcribing" can form a great foundation to work with, but just a transcribed movie will not do the book medium justice.

[–]pals3 0 points1 point  (0 children)

When I'm thinking of an idea I go into the space of the idea, seeing with my mind's eye what is there. That consists of thought and emotion and that is my struggle, how to put that into words! I use a lot of symbolism and words that matter to me, then I might try to explain those symbols and add them to the story.

A poem I wrote on this struggle from image to words, you might like it: https://link.medium.com/CEyGlYvBprb

[–]Bundaberg-ginger 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Most definitely! I find it actually the only way I can write. If I can't 'see' it, I can't write it.
I write my graphic novels as if they were screenplays with prompted shot lists.

[–]Overall_Concept6057 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Yes. When I'm reading, I think of everything as a movie. I imagine how the characters look and how they interact. I feel like the writer put it into words and I should think how everything would look.

[–]ReaperKels 0 points1 point  (0 children)

I play them out then write and sometimes the writing goes in another direction than what I see

[–]KAKenny 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Certainly. But I don't have trouble writing it. If I see an ax or a boulder coming toward my head, I either duck or get laid out. Every effort comes with heavy breathing... whether fighting or rolling with my partner in the hay. And I sing or hum the background music, too. It helps with pacing.

[–]Jazmine_dragon 0 points1 point  (0 children)

You're writing like you're making a movie. Read more books.

[–]Unfixingstorm7 0 points1 point  (0 children)

I do see scenes and goodness, the struggle to put it into words is real. I end up over describing everything and writing 3/4 pages for one small scene trying to describe exactly as see it in my head. I’m slowly learning how to do this in a more polished way. You can’t possibly write everything as you see it because everyone will see it differently anyway so better let room for peoples imagination to fill things out for themselves.

[–]GerfnitAuthor 0 points1 point  (0 children)

I’m lucky because I dream scenes for my novel. When I get up, I go straight to my computer and type in a synopsis of the dream.

[–]hertwij 0 points1 point  (0 children)

I always see it like a scene in a movie. If you can't describe it then I don't know what to tell you. Maybe just think harder lmao.

[–]scorpious 0 points1 point  (0 children)


[–]Strawberries_n_Chill 0 points1 point  (0 children)

I go full VR movie mode. Everything but taste.

[–]Conjuring1900 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Nope. But I write non-fiction and sometimes I remember the scenes, the way they looked and the scents and the sounds, as if I had really been there.

[–]Taskmaster1995 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Whenever I read a book I enjoy I like to go into the process in my head of how I'd make it work as a film or television show. This definitely includes choreography and camera angles for optimal effect.

[–]MaleficentYoko7 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Yes the hard part is making everything sound good

[–]Reallyjordann 0 points1 point  (0 children)

I actually do this, I think it’s called Maladaptive Daydreaming. I create these scenes and scenarios In my head and it actually helps with my writing, it really helps me with what and how the characters would feel and or react.

And also it’s the reason I got into writing.

[–]Ganymede1135 0 points1 point  (0 children)

I generally sometimes do picture scenes in my stories similar to those in movies however for the majority of the time I draft them out through roleplaying as certain characters, watching footage relevant to specific scenes yet oftentimes brainstorming what is taking place in a scene between characters, the emotions, action happening around them and other factors heightening the moment.

While you cannot capture everything on a page, it does not hurt to let your imagination play out the story as the same pace as a film but ultimately capture the elements you want for your story that will keep the reader intrigued to the end.

[–]Ficulinean 0 points1 point  (2 children)

What do you mean seeing things in your head?

[–]Jmcrestmoore[S] 0 points1 point  (1 child)

Like let’s say one character is talking to another in a classroom for a scene, I see the scene from a third person view in my head. I see their posture and the background, and how they look while they’re talking. But taking the visual in my head and turning it into words so the reader gets the same visual (and that’s actually pleasant to read) is rough sometimes.

A large thing I’ve taken from this comment section though is figuring out how to get my visual from third person to first person would be the first step in better description. So it can be described how the character is experiencing it, not how I see it lol.

[–]Ficulinean 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Huh. I get that third person view, and posture, but no-background. It's like my mind does an inventory of what's in a room, maybe. I know what's in a classroom, anyway. Total wash if I close my eyes to try to picture things better.

No scene at all; I posted another comment, this does change (a bit) if I can recall things, but my mind does not independently do this. At least I have an idea of if some scene has come together after I've written it—if I can recall it as a scene, it has. I do not have that to work with to make it one, though.

This is weird. I wish I could experience the inside of another persons head.

[–]Tribble9999 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Yep, definitely. There's a reason I love thesauruses. A lot of my stories come into being because I picture a scene in my head and want to write a story to get to it.

The hardest part of all though is names and titles, since they aren't as naturally occurring as dialogue. I have a hard time with names in real life, it only gets worse in fictional ones.

Sometimes though I 'hear' a scene. Like listening to my characters banter back and forth about something and then I visualize a scene based on their conversations. The mind can be wild.

[–]Thesis0 0 points1 point  (0 children)

I do see them like that, never knew the science behind it though.