What Are Imagination/Imagery and the Various Types?

When most of us read a book, we transport ourselves to other places or other times. We use our Imagination to stand on the cobbled streets in Harlem or sip a tea from the Buckingham Palace with the Queen before us. However, all of that is so much more than mere sound or imaginary picture in our minds.

What is Imagination?

Imagination is simply the ability to form mental images, analogies, phonological passages, or narratives of something that isn’t perceived by our reason or senses at the moment.

It can also be attributed as a manifestation of our memory and also enables us to analyze our past and devise hypothetical future scenarios that don’t exist.

We use our Imagination to see things from other points of view and empathize with others. It is said to be powerful, for it extends our experience and thoughts, enabling a personal construction of a worldview that reduces our sense of ignorance.

When it comes to my Imagination, it has been something I’ve never toyed with in any way. It is necessary for everything; in fact, the world is made by Imagination. For instance, before the tailor-made your clothes, he had to imagine how it would look like, the material and what design it would be. Your dress was already made in the tailor’s Imagination—so you can see how necessary it is to me.

That said, writers and authors have known this scope for centuries and devised the means to apply it and make the readers or audience participate in their ideas. And what better way can they do that than creating a world of possibilities for their readers.

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Here are the types of Imagery or Imagination to dream while reading;

Olfactory Imagination

According to scientific reports, the sense of smell tends to be the most vital link, and the smell of a pie which seems familiar can take us way back in time. And it’s no surprise that authors want to use our Imagination when it comes to this state.

For example, Alice walked into Mama Tammy’s kitchen and immediately caught the scent of whipped cream on a pie; it danced through the air and held her still for a minute as she took in the scent of the meal on the table.

That says much to anyone. Most times, people get to have the magical moment of actually smelling that whip cream and pie when it isn’t there.

Hearing or Auditory Imagination

This is said to appeal to the sense of hearing. Perhaps, something frightening lurks in the corridors, and the character must be careful. The sound doesn’t look pretty nice, but when we read the flow of words. We immediately use our Imagination to hear something lurking within us. It seems like the play is taking place in us.

For example, the tiny chicks flew screaming over the yet yawning gulf, the sullen white surf beat against its steep sides, then immediately reduced, and the great shroud of the tumultuous sea rolled on as it did since its very beginnings.

Tactile Imagination

This is all about the sense of touch. This tends to use our Imagination in the sense of feeling things. Do you remember the story of Esau and Jacob? This was when blind Isaac wanted to bless his two sons, and he did that through the sense of touch—that was what he could do.

Here’s an example, the first was called Esau, and the second was called Jacob. So, Jacob is the deceiving one. He comes into the presence of his father; he has no hair, while his brother is covered all over with hair, the skin, covers of his hands, and the nape of his neck, and he puts on the robe of his brother that he may deceive the father when he comes to the father’s presence. The father said, “Who are you?”

He said: “I am your son, Esau.”

He said, “Come closer, I can’t see you, come closer that I may feel you.”

So he comes closer, and the father feels him, and he says: ‘You feel like Esau, but your voice sounds like Jacob.”

He said, “I am your son Esau.”

He had to feel him in the story, so we get the sense of touch there using our Imagination.

Gustatory Imagination

This has to do with our sense of taste. After you stop using your imaginary sense of smell, you’ll have to know how much it tastes like, how delicious that creamy pie or meal is. It’s all about the sense of taste.

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Hopefully, for you, the author would still want to make you have a good taste of that dish. And they’ll do this by making you feel the crunchy top, and the softcore of the pie, and how that strawberry jam dances upon your tongue. And this would serve well by using your Imagination.

Visual Imagination

This is more common with most people. Because it’s the core, every story has five essential elements; introduction, rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution. Tied into each of those elements are what we call vivid imaginations, which are not only common but essential in the spectrum of all stories.

For example, when an author writes, “He had red hair, and shiny blue eyes,” that’s visual Imagination that tends to describe the character’s appearance. And if an author writes, “The tree swayed by the tempo of the wind, and danced in the moonlight.” We are still enjoying visual Imagination as they tend to set the story’s scene.

Visual Imagination is the basis of a story. What is a story if we can’t use our imagination when it comes to this? So, it’s most necessary and serves as the foundation in the whole makeup.

Emotional Imagination

This is mainly concerned with manifesting emotional dispositions and extending them into emotional scenarios. When it comes to using our Imagination this way, we are concerned with luring the emotional constructs of our audience. The individuals who use this more often than not are our Opera entertainers and movie makers—we tend to get lost right in their world, even if it’s for a second, especially if the movie got you hooked!

Strategic Imagination

If you’ve watched the Squid Game of Netflix, you’ll get the hint of this. It is simply concerned about the vision of “what’s next,” this is the ability to identify and take note of opportunities by converting them into mental spectacles.

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The main character in Squid Game was given various opportunities to be out of the deadly game. Still, in some way, he’d always found a way of finding a loophole or help of some kind from someone or anybody, which made him survive to the last spot and become the winner—now that’s what we call strategy, although sometimes done unknowingly by the character of the story.


When we use our imagination, there’s no need to have some blockbuster movie to make us get in the moment. We can grab a book and dive into the world of the author. I enjoyed doing this when reading the Harry Potter series—I couldn’t stop reading because it made me feel like I was actually in Hogwarts.

When you train your Imagination this way, all of your senses will obey your every command as you take a feel of the book. And don’t let the journey end when you read that book; you can read other literature to spike that Imagination of yours still.


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