Confession: I'm a HUGELY visual reader. I'm a visual person in general, really. I'm a visual learner, I memorize by reading or seeing or looking at neat graphics, and I'm good at picturing abstract concepts in my head. Like, I'm good at remembering historical dates because I see them in a sort of timeline (do not ask me to explain it). I used to double check my arithmetic by "drawing" it out because numbers good, pictures bad. Visualosity is my jam.
|Look, I'm basically psychic. NBD. Totes casj.|
But most of all, I'm quite an imaginative person, which is both a blessing and a curse. When I read a book, I SEE it, like a little mini movie. I'm totally susceptible to descriptions of setting and character. It means I really SEE characters if they're well-described (this comes in handy as a fan artist, obvs), and it means I can construct a whole world in my head if the author gives me enough details. It means I'm the kind of reader who quite likes to know the color and cut and fabric of the princess's gown, and how high the rafters in the castle are, and what color the light is through the stained glass windows and are the tapers black wax and how low have they burned and FORTY-FIVE YEARS LATER, Princess Whatsit is still sitting in that damn castle thinking about candlewax, and nothing has happened in the plot whatsoever. But it's OKAY because WE NEED TO SET THE STAGE.
Though, to be honest, it is nice when the author gives me just enough to form the basic shape, but still gives me enough freedom to fill in the details myself. J.K. Rowling is a genius at this. She gives you one or two landmark physical traits (ginger, lanky; frizzy hair, buckteeth; looks like a toad, dresses in pink) and then my brain is able generate the whole rest of the person to all on its own. Honestly. Magic.
But being that visual...well, it also means I can drown if the author gives me too much detail, because my brain's whizzing so fast to add it all into the picture and then we're hanging out with Princess Whatsit for a few centuries, getting nothing done. Or I get stuck if an author gives me a detail I don't like and then it's LODGED IN THERE FOREVE. (The mental gymnastics I have to perform to chop the ponytails off male love interests...) My active imagination also means I'm super good at imagining in real life worst case scenarios or embarrassing moments or serial killers behind the shower curtain, but that's a different issue for a different post.
Growing up, I assumed everyone read like me, picturing scenes so clearly they could even see the lighting and the freckles on the heroine's nose and the rip in her hem. And then I started blogging, and talking to other readers regularly, and realized...erm, nope.
(Sidenote... how weird/cool is reading? That a few words can make me hallucinate SO VIVIDLY that that collection of letters becomes a real person in my mind, so real that I can THEN translate that image onto paper? So real that it feels like I know them? BOOKS, WHAT MANNER OF DARKEST MAGIC ARE YOU, NEVER LEAVE US)
But yeah. Not all readers have little projectionists up in their brain, displaying story reel after story reel in full Technicolor. Apparently some of you guys don't picture faces at all. Or picture anything at all. I'd go on and say what it is like for non-visual readers, but I legit have no clue. (Please tell in the comments!)
|Do you see tea leaves? OR DO YOU SEE THE GRIM?|
Do you see little blobby smudges? Do all characters look like Noah Czerny to you? Or is everyone the Gray Man? Do you sort of see around them? Do you hear their voices? This is one area my mini movie doesn't always go. Pretty much everyone sounds like me in my head, even if they're British or male or not speaking English at all. It's part of why audiobooks tend to throw me.
Are you a visual reader? Do you see everything from faces to setting to wardrobe, like me? Or no faces at all? OR NOTHING AT ALL? Is it all words? And feelings? But how do you get the feelings if you don't see them kissing and dying and and and gahhh let me experience this!
|Or are you saying to me "wtf, Gillian, THE WIND DOES NOT HAVE COLOR"|