One cool way to help readers remember your story


Sometime ago, I was staying in a hotel in Sydney. It was a busy morning and there was a queue to get into the dining room for breakfast. I was glad I had an apple.

Dum de dum.

In front of me was a young family. Mum, Dad and two little kids.  Primary school age.

Waiting, waiting/ Were the children/ In the modern way.

Both kids had an iPad. Both kids were engrossed.

What were they looking at?

I dunno. I couldn’t look over their shoulders. I mean, sheesh. (Okay, I tried…)


Whatever they had on those screens,  whatever was holding their attention, I bet my bottom dollar it involved IMAGES. You can bet they weren’t reading words, and words alone.

This generation, perhaps more than any other, is wired for images.

They love images. Images speak to them. They’re bombarded from the moment they open their eyes in the morning. Many have images all over their bed linen.

Gone are the pastel, rainbow-striped sheets and sombre chenille bedspreads we had in the sixties.

These days kids wake up to Spiderman. Dinosaurs. Designer owls. Funky foxes. Or that princess in the blue dress. You know, the frozen one. With the tiny waist.

As children’s authors we’re up against bed linen. And iPads. And Youtube. And TV and Netflix and movies and Gameboys (or whatever they’re called nowadays). I can barely keep up. Can you?

So, when you’re writing stories, better still, when your re-writing your stories, think about the imagery you’re conjuring up. I’m referring in particular to novels and chapter books.

Is there a dominant image or cool motif that springs to mind? Is there something in your story that is so strong it could even become iconic?

How cool would that be?

Harry Potter’s scar. The lamppost in Narnia. The pig’s head in Lord of the Flies. The dead fox on the fencepost in Truly Tan. Ahem.

Kids are freaked out by this. And they love it. Thanks, Claire Robertson, illustrator.

Strong images such as these, capture your readers’ imaginations and anchor your stories in their memories. 

It can help to look at your story from a designer’s perspective. What image might they put on the cover? The back cover. The spine. The promo material. What jumps out?

Give it some thought. Play around with this idea. It can excite your imagination and help enrich your story— help you take it even further.

Jen xo

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6 Replies to “One cool way to help readers remember your story”

  1. Great suggestions, Jen! I have very specific images in my head all the time when I write … like videos going on behind my eyes and I’m just recording sight, sound, voices and so on. The trick is imparting all that in words!! 🙂 Great fun when it works.

  2. Apart from fabulous advice, this is perfect for my investigation into blogging. I am trying to choose an appropriate literary format and my grown-up daughter said “make it a mixture of words and pictures because my generation is image obsessed” so there you go…hmm, I might use that old candlewick bedspread as a backdrop…

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