Are We Looking At The Same House?
When I write a book, one of the things that is very very clear to me in my mind, is a sense of place. I can vividly and clearly see the streets of Cary Town as well as the streets of Golatha Falls. I know what makes one place different from the other. The Catholic Church in Golatha Falls is very different in appearance from Hadrian’s church in Nevada.
I can see Luc and Anna’s house: every room in my head. I know the full layout of Z’s cave and Anthony’s penthouse by heart. At times I can mentally see the places more than I can mentally see specific looks of the characters.
I don’t “overdescribe” a book, so I have no idea what YOU see when you read the book. I’ve found that overdescribing can hurt not only because it slows down my experience of a book I’m reading, but because human minds will rush to fill in the blanks and make up details to make a picture… so if you get details that conflict with what your mind already supplied, it can be jarring to the experience.
So when I’m reading a book, I’m always wondering… is this what the house looks like in the author’s mind? How far away are our mind-pictures of this from each other? And when I’m writing a book, or more accurately when I release it out into the world, I often wonder how closely the reader’s image of the place is to mine. Do they see a totally different Golatha Falls than I do? Does Anthony’s kitchen look wildly different to them than it does to me? If I could somehow produce a physical picture, would readers recognize it?
There are times i wish I could literally peak into people’s brains and see what they see “visually” when they read a book of mine. I’d be fascinated to know how much it is the same and how much it is different. But there is no way that can ever be known because “describing” it to each other isn’t really the point. It’s the mental image one actually has in their head, and that is private for each experiencer. Probably as it should be, but I’m still super curious.
In fact, if I could have any super power in the world… I’d pick teleportation, of course (I mean it’s SUPER useful), but if I could get a SECOND super power, I’d pick the ability to know what readers visually see in their head when they walk down the streets in my stories or go into houses and caves.