Peggy Bechko: Hearing Voices, Seeing Pictures

I’m a writer.


by Peggy Bechko

You’re probably a writer – or maybe a reader who’s just very interested in the ‘process’.

Either way, I have a confession to make. I see pictures in my head.

That might not be as bad as some writers who are more ‘audio’ oriented and hear voices. (Isn’t that indicative of schizophrenia?)

Oh, well, whatever, here’s what I’m getting at. There are a couple of major categories of writers, those being audio and visual.

Now, an audio oriented writer thinks in words and those thoughts are expressed internally aloud, usually in the writer’s own voice though they can be in the voices of the characters the writer is dealing with or even in the voice of someone strong the writer is acquainted with (thus the schizophrenia reference). Or at times the voice inside a writer’s head can take over the position as narrator.

Depending on how deeply intertwined the writer is with his or her characters and story this can become irritating if the narrator is annoying. And it’s difficult to tell your voice to shut up. And if it DID shut up you’d be up a creek.

By the same token being an audio writer can have some great advantages. It can be of a great help when writing dialog because the writer can ‘hear’ the speech of the characters. It can be much easier getting into the characters’ internal thought processes as well. The writer can submerge in the language of the story as writing is, of course, the act of putting words down on paper (well up on the computer screen to be spat out later onto paper – usually).

I’m a largely ‘visual’ writer. I see pictures in my head, like I’m watching a movie when I write. Perhaps that’s part of why I enjoy writing novels and scripts.

The down side of that is the “I can see it, why can’t you” affliction visual writers can suffer from. Since the whole thing is perfectly clear in the writer’s head, that writer has to be particularly careful to make sure he or she gets it down clearly on the page. No, everybody can’t peek inside your head and see the pictures. That would be very messy. You have to express what you’re seeing there. And you have to do it clearly and with life and excitement so the story draws the reader in whether in script or novel.

The up side is that I see pictures in my head, like I’m watching a movie when I write (yes I said that above). But you have to get this. I’m actually seeing those pictures, not trying to imagine them. It’s a real movie for me. And, I have to confess, I do have a touch of the ‘audio’ writer as I can also hear my characters, usually quite plainly (sigh, that schizophrenia rears i’s head again).

The good news is I’m sane, mostly, and can put that film in my head to good use translating it into the written word on the page. Once I set up the story I just kind of let it roll inside my head.

So which is better.



Why do we think so often that one thing has to be better than another? There just must be a ‘better’ way. Can’t they just be different but equal? It’s a different approach, or if the writer is lucky, a combination of the two.

Focus in. Enjoy your imaginary friends. Think about which kind of writer you are, then put it to work for you.

One thought on “Peggy Bechko: Hearing Voices, Seeing Pictures”

  1. Oh, please, bring back the good ol’ days where WRITERS wrote the same way BANK ROBBERS ROBBED, only using a typerwriter instead of a gun. The ROBBER: “I think I’ll rob a bank today!”. The WRITER: “I think I’ll write a movie!”
    But what if the bank won’t give me the money?
    And what if my movie SUCKS?!
    No problem, my talented friends! You simply “WRITE ANOTHER MOVIE”, “ROB ANOTHER BANK!” gs

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