How much do you visualize when you read? Do you imagine faces for the characters? Can you see the locations in your mind’s eye? Or do you just plunge ahead with the story, letting the imagery fall to the wayside?
Interesting question! – I’ve actually just been thinking about this, while reading the book that has me engrossed just now (I’m only about half way through, so no spoilers in the comments, please!): The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith – pseudonym for J.K. Rowling (as I already knew when I bought it).
This book is the first crime novel in what is to be a series featuring private investigator Cormoran Strike, a war veteran; and the setting is London.
Knowing the author to be J.K. Rowling, it’s no great surprise to find her conveying vivid visual images to the reader, as well as using a rich and varied vocabulary in general.
I do think it often depends quite a lot on the author’s intentions and skill to describe things (and people), how clearly I come to visualize them during reading.
It’s been too long since I visited London (back in my teens, and only briefly) for me to have a clear idea of the exact geography referred to (street names etc); but I do have an inner image of Strike’s office, and certain other places so far important to the story; and also of Strike himself and various other characters. (Enough, I think, to be able to have an opinion about how well the casting was done if it’s ever turned into film!)
Robin caught the door before it closed on the dingy stairwell. An old-fashioned metal staircase spiralled up around an equally antiquated birdcage lift. Concentrating on keeping her high heels from catching in the metalwork stairs, she proceeded to the first landing, passing a door carrying a laminated and framed poster saying Crowdy Graphics, and continued climbing. It was only when she reached the glass door on the floor above that Robin realised, for the first time, what kind of business she had been sent to assist. Nobody at the agency had said. The name on the paper beside the outside buzzer was engraved on the glass panel: C. B. Strike, and, underneath it, the words Private Detective.
Galbraith, Robert (2013-04-18). The Cuckoo's Calling (Cormoran Strike) (Kindle Locations 190-195). Little, Brown Book Group. Kindle Edition.