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Creative Writing Creating Mental Pictures

“The Aboriginals had an earthbound philosophy. The earth gave life to a man; gave him his food, language and intelligence; and the earth took him back when he died. A man’s ‘own country’, even an empty stretch of spinifex, was itself a sacred icon that must remain unscarred.” ‘Songlines’, Chatwin

The beauty of writing is found in the voice of the writer creating a mental picture with his words. It can be one of the most difficult concepts to teach, but is one of the more important techniques a writer uses to convey a sensory approach to writing. Voice allows us, as the reader, to glimpse the writer’s soul, to feel and connect emotionally through our own experiences to what the writer is saying.

We had left the Plenty Highway, heading south along a dirt track toward Alice Springs. The terrain began to change immediately from a flat, tree lined,straight gravel road. The sandy, two track snaked off through the undulating foothills of the MacDonnells, which we will parallel on the way to Alice. Bending around a curve in the road, a small hill rose before us. In silence, we left our bikes by the side of the road to climb its boulder-strewn rise. Several team members composed their thoughts at the joy of this latest environment.


“When we came upon the MacDonnells, I received an extra shot of adrenalin and joy. Not that a long flat landscape’s single tone can be ignored, but the road we all saw flowing through the MacDonnells was a wonderful orchestra I was aching to hear! Mick

“The sight of the start of the MacDonnell Range astounded me. Couldn’t believe that something could be so different to the land we had been cycling through.” Josh

“To me it felt like everyone was living in the moment! Not thinking about getting to camp or how many miles we’d do, just gazing across the huge valley and being excited about something as simple as an echo! Crister ‘Brave’ Brady

“Looking out over the vista felt like drinking a glass of ice-cold water to quench a raging thirst. I felt fully satiated. An inner need had been met and fulfilled.“ Jason

“From the top of the rise, small ranges of tree covered grassland fell away toward the horizon. The silence was broken by a single shout from Crister, creating an echo, which reverberated across the distant hills. His voice appeared to become a repeated echo, carried by the wind. Straddling the rocks, we sat in silence, listening to his fading voice. I felt completed grounded in the land of the ancients.”

Suggested learning activities: Practice writing in a daily journal. Select a topic that is a simple idea or event. Use words that create pictures that can paint a visual image in the mind of your reader. Select your favorite stories and identify how the author uses voice to engage his readers.



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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on August 28, 2001 12:21 PM.

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