Imagery is Everything

*This post originally appeared on author Samantha Holt's site, but I was forced to move it over here when I noticed the domain was suspended.  Here is the article in is entirety:

Imagery is Everything

For most writers, painting a picture is important.  Getting a reader to see something the way you do is paramount to anything else.  This is why I rely heavily on images.  I use new photos, old photos, anything I can find to understand how something works or to try to paint a picture.  Sure, imagination is also important.  What you can’t see in reality you create in your mind.  But, we still have to describe it.

They teach you to use all of your senses to describe a scene.  Not just externally, but internally.  If you look at a tree, how does it make you feel?  Do you think of history, of how old that tree is, how long it has been around?  I do.  Do you want to find out what kind of tree it is?  Ah, but you don’t have to know right away.  You can research it to match the leaf pattern.  Hell, you can substitute for another tree in most cases (I guess it depends what is indigenous to a region).  

Think of an old red tricycle.  Does that make you feel something?  Do you think of your childhood, how you used to peddle fast, your legs spinning until you thought you could fly?  Was your mom or dad watching close by to make sure you didn’t get hurt?   

Wow, a photo can bring some memories to mind, can’t it?  It’s the same with research.  When I do research on a time period or a specific location, I try to ruminate on it for awhile.  How does it make me feel?  How would a character feel?  Are the streets paved or are they still dirt-laden?  All of these details might not seem so important for some beginning writers, but I guarantee readers will feel more grounded into a character’s situation if they can “feel” something.

After I write a manuscript, I often go back through to see if I’ve missed any of these sensory details.  For Upon Your Honor, I used old photos, old journals or ethnographies about locations, old newspaper ads, old maps, anything I could find to fill in the gaps.  Sure, I did a lot of research as I went along, but the nice thing about saving it is that you can go back to it when you need to add anything.  For locations, I not only found pictures of a city as it is now, but I tried to find images of how it looked then, in 1891, for authenticity.  With fashion or décor, I researched sites that specialized in the Victorian age or I looked at sources specific to that year.  I will share some of the imagery I used to describe what happened in my book here with you.


How do these images makes you feel?  Are you getting a sense that imagery is everything?

Let me give you another example just for fun.

I recently stumbled across this photo on a blog, and it automatically got my creative wheels turning.  

This is my little five sentence piece of fiction I came up with spur of the moment:

Waiting by the tracks, the rain spattered down on her black umbrella.  The cobblestone pattern beside the metals rails was a fine sheen of water.  In her long, blue casual dress she huddled through the cold, her butt planted on a long trunk.  She alternated gazed down the long track and checked her watch.  It was running late, and she feared her packed clothing would be soaked soon with the delay.

So, you see.  Anything can spur a moment of creativity for a writer.  Even if we’re not looking at photos, life can provide the same things.  Real life is quite inspiring, and I utilized those feelings while writing Upon Your Honor.

I hope you love the book as much as I loved writing it!

In closing, I will leave you with two excerpts from Upon Your Honor, the second book in the Heiresses in Love Series.  These teasers contain quite a bit of detail.

Excerpt 1

“Do you want a tour of the house before dinner? Maybe the grounds?”
She nodded. “That would be lovely. Thank you.”
Adrienne gave her the tour. The plantation home was in the Greek Revival style with a symmetrical façade and narrow windows near the front door. There was a long central hall running between the front and back exits on the lower floor. Each room was complete with wide oriental rugs and lovely dark cherry furniture with blue velvet padding.
She was shown the dining room. A long dining table, complete with sixteen chairs, lay in the middle of the space. A harp-shaped fan hung from the ceiling, clearly for warmer evenings. The parlor had a fireplace and a pianoforte on either side of the comfortable settee and chairs. While in the kitchen, she and Adrienne were greeted by the cook, Amelie. Gabriel’s sister assured Chloe that they did not always eat at the long dining table for all of their meals, and had breakfast or luncheon in either their rooms or in the parlor. On such an occasion, a buffet table would be set out so they could serve themselves.
The second floor had a long hallway, as well, and many bedrooms. She imagined most of the bedrooms were decorated as elegantly as hers. Each bedroom let out onto the extensive gallery, which overlooked the estate grounds.
The house was so beautiful Chloe could not imagine how it had been growing up.

Excerpt 2 

Hours later, Chloe was dressed in the dark blue costume. The velvet was soft like mink against her skin. She looked in the mirror in her bedroom and could not tear her gaze away. The sleeves were narrow and the neckline was cut low to tease onlookers with the tops of her breasts. The only thing that made it acceptable was the extra white lace fabric adorning the neckline. The rest of the gown flowed out beautifully and was adorned with nothing but the rich blue fabric. Gabriel’s mother had also lent her a necklace with a pretty substantial sapphire pendant in the shape of a heart.
The whole costume was perfect, far from what she was accustomed to. Even when she’d lived with her father, she had hardly ever attended balls. There simply wasn’t the occasion for one. Her neighbors were content to go to the theater or to hold simple afternoon teas. Parties were very rare. In truth, she imagined her father had been too busy to take her to any.
With a shrug, Chloe pushed her feet into some matching blue slippers. She checked the mirror again. A maid had drawn her hair up into a bun, then several long curls hung here and there down her neckline as well as around her face. Francoise, who was also Tante Lina’s personal maid, urged her to wear some cosmetics, but Chloe had declined.
The most she had ever done was pinch her cheeks or firm her lips together to create the same affect. Back home, Veronica had started her on a natural cream regimen at night as soon as she had become of age. Perhaps Chloe’s attempts did not last, but given how deadly some of the current trends were, it was preferable. Besides, she had seen some of the stage makeup on the opera singers and it was hideous. Chloe gave a satisfied nod at her reflection, then she grasped her white shawl to guard against the cool of the night, and left the room.
As promised, Adrienne wore a green gown. Gabriel’s mother wore a lavender one. And despite her age, Tante Lina was still resplendent in a silk mauve-colored gown.
Gabriel appeared in a black suit, dressed perfectly for the occasion. When he saw her, his eyes widened. He crossed the room and took her hands. In front of everyone, he leaned forward and kissed both her cheeks. “You are so lovely, ma chére,” he whispered.
She murmured a thank you, but she could not dismiss the fluttering of her heart or the heat in his gaze. Why was she always undone in his presence? Love was making a fool of her, and she was helpless to stop it. If only she had left the ship sooner. If only she had given Gabriel that letter. She would not love him so much, and she would not feel so torn. But, that was a lie, wasn’t it? She had loved him even then. Chloe wasn’t sure when it had begun. Had she loved him from the moment she’d stumbled across him in her attempt to stow away?
“I thought you would wear the other gown,” Gabriel said, drawing her attention to his words.
“So did I.”
“Where did you get this?” he asked pleasantly.
“It’s your grandmother’s, an heirloom really. Your mother insisted I wear it. I could hardly say no.”
He looked surprised for a moment, then smiled. “I’m glad. You look ravishing.”
“Come along, mes poulettes,” Gabriel’s mother announced, and Chloe was saved from making a response. Not that she could have formed one.
It was nine o’clock in the evening, and they left the house as a group. They took two carriages; Fara, Tante Lina, and Adrienne in one while Gabriel and Chloe got in the other.
The ride to the Fournier’s was both silent and agreeable. Nostalgically, she was reminded of the carriage ride they’d taken to get to New Orleans, the nasty spill along the journey and the moments she’d spent with Gabriel at the inn in Claiborne. Did he ever think of it as she did? Did it mean much more to him than a simple night of pleasure? She hoped so, but she couldn’t be sure.
It had been a week since she’d arrived at his parents’ house, and she had not gone to Nana’s. She knew she would have to. It was inevitable. But, perhaps she could delay it for just a bit longer, put off the separation that must occur. For she knew she had to move on. She knew she was not worthy of this lovely family that had accepted her.
Gabriel cleared his throat and she glanced at him as he sat across from her. “About what happened in Claiborne…”
He frowned. “I feel I must have taken advantage of you.”
It was certainly kind of him to say so, but she could not bear for him to alter what had truly occurred, at least, not in her mind. “No, you did not.”
“You cannot realize—”
“I’m not naïve, Gabriel. I knew exactly what I was doing. You do not have to feel responsible for it.”
“You were a virgin,” he said quietly.
“So I was. Does that matter?”
“It does to me.”
“I took what was meant for your future husband. I had no right.”
She shook her head. “You were the only one I wanted.”
He smiled slowly and looked as if he would reply but they reached their destination. There was no chance to discuss it further. They were quickly swept into the pandemonium that was the ball.
The Fournier house was made of dark red brick with large white columns placed in front. It had galleries sweeping across the front, like the Bellamont Plantation, and the galleries were buffeted by cast-iron railings. Draped around the house was foliage of all kinds and a high brick wall, which she imagined encased a garden.
Once inside, the family was announced, and then they made their way down a wide staircase into a large ballroom. The room was covered in gold damask wallpaper with matching gold curtains. Tables were scattered here and there, but the focus was the dance floor, where couples spun even now. Buffet tables laden with rich reserves of food were laid out towards the sides. The family found a table and sat. Gabriel excused himself and returned with plates laden with delights. There was a wide variety of fish, game, vegetables and rice. Chloe particularly enjoyed the shrimp and oysters. For dessert, there were fresh pineapple, brandied fruits, almonds, raisins and an assortment of cheeses.
Soon everyone was too stuffed to eat any more. A servant cleared the plates away, and Chloe watched as Fara and Tante Lina abandoned the table to join a group of other women, perhaps friends. Gabriel escaped as well. He clearly knew many gentlemen in the room as they stopped to shake hands and speak with him. One man buffeted him on the shoulder, grinning. It was clear they knew one another very well. “Who is that?” she wondered aloud.
Adrienne glanced over, then shrugged. “That is Alexandre. He has been Gabriel’s bon ami since childhood.”
“I see.” Her attention wandered a bit, and she listened to the lively music play in the room. Chloe sat pleasantly beside Gabriel’s sister as the dancers spun around the room. Adrienne tapped a finger on her provided dance card in an agitated manner. Chloe put a hand over her companion’s. “What ails you, dear?”
“Have you seen this card? There are fifteen dances on here, and he has taken all but five,” she replied.
Chloe hid her smile behind her other hand. She had been lucky enough to see Adrienne’s gentleman greet her when they first came into the house, and the girl was not as removed as she pretended to be.

More Information about the Book

Blurb for Upon Your Honor

Deception is a dangerous path…
New York City, August, 1891 – Orphaned after the death of her father, Chloe Waverly stows away on La Voyageur to escape the clutches of her cruel fiancé, Lamonte Beckett. Gabriel Hill, a strange and compelling gentleman, comes upon Chloe and promises to protect her without knowing the true circumstances of why she is running away. During their journey, Gabriel doesn’t bargain on being distracted by her fair beauty or succumbing to her many charms. As their attraction to each other grows, so does the danger and Gabriel suspects things are not as they should be.

Both are determined to get to New Orleans, where she can start a new life. But, once they reach their destination, events spin out of their control and Chloe is captured by the fiancé she escaped. Gabriel is left wondering if he can overlook her betrayal. Soon he finds himself in a race against time, to reach her before Beckett can exact revenge.
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About the Author

Bestselling author of UPON YOUR RETURN and 18 other books. 2014 BTS Red Carpet Review Nominee. Finalist and Runner-up in the MARSocial's Author of the Year Competition. Honorable mention in the January 2014 Reader's Choice Award. Liebster Blogger Award for 2013 and 2014. Top 50 Authors on Winner of the Great One Liners Contest on the Directory of Published Authors.

Marie Lavender lives in the Midwest with her family and three cats. She has been writing for over twenty years. She has more works in progress than she can count on two hands. Marie has published nineteen books in the genres of historical romance, contemporary romance, romantic suspense, paranormal romance, mystery/thriller, literary fiction and poetry. Lavender just released Magick & Moonlight, a paranormal romance, in March. Upon Your Honor, released in late April, is her second historical romance. Feel free to visit her website at for further information about her books and her life. Marie is also on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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