You need to create an impression without creating a whole picture (so to speak).
The trick is being frugal with your description, so that you can let the image stand on its own without overloading it.
A reasonable description of regret, per the example above, instantly becomes overkill in an instance like this: This might look like obvious redundancy to you, but it’s something I see all the time.
Once a writer has decided that an occasional calls for imagery, they might decide that “more is more! Picking one specific and powerful image is going to focus your reader’s attention.
A big mistake I see in manuscripts is that writers use imagery when it really isn’t necessary.
A lot of writers believe that an image is necessary for every situation. My preference would be that you use imagery in books more sparingly. So that brings up the question of when to use imagery in description.
In a 1980 essay in Novels are more than imagery – they are thought, plot, style, tone, characterization, and a score of other things – but it is the imagery that makes the book 'stand out' somehow; to come alive; to glow with its own light.” Imagery is a technique that uses evocative language to create a sharp, mental picture for the reader.
These images always tell us something vital about the story, whether it’s creating an atmosphere or a feeling, or telling us something about a scene or character.
It introduces the idea of a specific emotion that’s playing out inside him, and adds the layer of how deeply it affects him.
Regret is like a predator, and he feels like prey–vulnerable, exposed.