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Shippy's avatar

When you were little and read a story, did you see the story, or the writing?

Asked by Shippy (9852 points ) January 29th, 2013

When I read a book, and I was very well read, from a rather young age. I sailed away into the world the writer was inviting me to. I was part of the gang in ‘Secret Seven’. I could see their faces, their smirks and understand their general character. I sailed ships, ran on beaches and played with dragons. All in beautiful technicolor.

When I got older I went through a Stephen King phase. He has such a good way of using words to create noises, or atmosphere. He can also like any good writer create believable characters.

My mother was exceptionally good at grammar and spelling. I never was, I was too lost in the imagery of the moment.

My question therefore is, do you see the words or the images that are being painted before you.? Do you see the grammar or the noises, sounds and colors of words? If so I wonder why we are so different?

If you have a favorite passage from a book, or poem and would like to share, I would love to see it!

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22 Answers

Judi's avatar

Images for sure. I need editors in my life when I try to write. Flither had helped a bunch though.

bookish1's avatar

Great question @Shippy!
I know that my imagination used to be much more vivid than it is now (it’s still pretty strong, though, which is a mixed blessing at this point), but even when I was a little kid, I was more attuned to words than images. So much that I had trouble understanding comic books!!! I am very verbal and linguistically oriented. I can still recite much of Through The Looking Glass word for word.

burntbonez's avatar

If you don’t see the images, I don’t see why you would bother to read. In fact, I wonder if that would explain why some people don’t like to read: they don’t see the images in their heads.

Pachy's avatar

What a great question! It’s hard for me to remember that far back—the printing press was then a recent invention—but seems to me I saw the writing first and then got engaged in the story. It was like that when, as an adult, I tried to learn how to play the piano, too. I kept focusing on the keys and the notes, becoming so conscious of them I couldn’t get involved in the music I was trying to play, despite how much I love music.

TheProfoundPorcupine's avatar

I remember reading things such as the Secret Seven, the Famous Five, The Hobbit and all kinds of things when I was a kid and I always found that I would lose an hour or so of my life as a bomb could go off outside my window and I would not hear it due to being stuck in the fantasy world that was being created in the story.

I know that they could have written a book that was full of various mistakes and there is no way I would have noticed as I went more for the descriptive terms and taking those words and building that room or whatever in my mind rather than whether the punctuation was correct.

thorninmud's avatar

There was usually a shift at some point. In the beginning, before I had really keyed into the author’s voice, the text required a certain amount of decoding, so there was a cognitive lag between word and imagery that made the text come to the fore. But as the story progressed, the language became more transparent and flowed more effortlessly into imagery.

tups's avatar

I always see the story, never the writing. That was the way it was when I was child and it hasn’t changed since.

Judi's avatar

ugh. See why I need editors? I just realized I spelt fluther wrong.

zenvelo's avatar

I always fell right into books, right on to the banks of the great grey green greasy Limpopo river, O Best Beloved.

And I sailed with Dr Dolittle and with the kids in Swallows and Amazons.

But to your question, for most avid readers, the language gets imprinted as one reads,but then must be used by writing and practicing. That’s why the best education programs have the kids read, and then write about what they read.

Pachy's avatar

A short p.s. to my above comment. Even now, I have a hard time staying involved in the story for being so conscious of the writing. A misspelling or incorrect use of grammar or punctuation will completely throw me out of the story, just as spotting a continuity error in a movie. Writing that sentence just triggered a small epiphany. Maybe that’s why tend to enjoy biography and non-fiction more than fiction.

El_Cadejo's avatar

Very much so, especially if its sci fi, but most fiction will do it to a degree. It’s why I enjoy reading so much, I get to dive into other worlds and experiences in my brain.Books are movies for your mind.

@burntbonez I’ve always wondered how people could not enjoy reading as well. I think you may be on to something there.

Judi's avatar

My poor husband has NEVER been list in a book. It makes me sad.

burntbonez's avatar

@Judi I think you mean “lost” in a book, right?

Shippy's avatar

@Judi loll, I was so busy seeing your husband being swallowed by a book, I didn’t see list wink

Judi's avatar

Ugh. Editor please. It’s an emergency.

Shippy's avatar

@Judi Your forgiven, I saw Mr Judi, his legs flaying, the pages whirling, the book about to plunge to the floor, just as your high heels walked past, click clack loll

KNOWITALL's avatar

Images. I’ve always been encouraged to use my imagination.

zensky's avatar

Good question: both. I love words, language, linguistics and etymology. But of course I sailed with Jason and fought alongside Heracles.

flutherother's avatar

When I was a kid I read Enid Blyton mostly. It was easy reading with few difficult words and very visual so I didn’t notice the text much. I pay more attention to the words now, but it depends on the writing.

YARNLADY's avatar

I live the stories as I read them.

DancingMind's avatar

It’s more than the images, it’s the smells and the textures and all the emotions. And the characters. But it’s the words, too—like @zensky. It’s the sound and the shape and the mouthfeel and the rhythm of the words that bring everything to life, so I notice them as they’re showing me what the story is… but I do see the story predominantly. Maybe it’s the words and the story simultaneously. Not closed captioned style, though—they’d distract from each other.

Some thing I’ve noticed about my imagination, over time. Faces are hard for me to get concrete. I only have a few basic house-plans in my head, and they get re-used and remodeled accordingly. And I rarely imagine the world with the same compass or left-right direction as the author intended… so I’ll be in the world, and the words will say the character looked left, except what they’re supposed to be seeing is on the right. Definitely on the right!. Typos bother me too. Tree roots and cracked cement and rocks, I honestly feel like I’ve tripped.

I love to re-read a book that I read years ago. It’s amazing when everything emerges from my mind, still there. So many worlds! Haven’t lost any. Often, when it’s a childhood book, it’s like watching childhood cartoons—I never noticed how flat the cartoon characters actually were drawn. And sometimes, I realize I never saw how detailed the background was.

Anyway. Books. Yum.

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