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Descriptive Writing

One of my favorite places to be is in front of a nice, warm fireplace. I’m careful not to get too close, even though I love the feel of my socks when they get all toasty. Every time I smell that familiar smell of logs burning, I’m reminded of the many camping trips I took as a child. It all makes me want to poke a marshmallow on a long, twiggy stick and toast it over the flames until it’s a light golden brown.

Descriptive writing is about giving your readers the details they need to visualize and be a part of your writing. It’s about using words that describe everything the reader needs to know to truly create a picture in his or her mind, simply by reading your words. Here are a few things that will help you add vivid descriptions to your writing.

  • Use your senses. Think about each of your senses and how they contribute to the description. How does it smell? What does it sound like? How does it feel? What does it look like? How does it taste? You won’t always be able to include all of the senses, but it’s a good place to start.
  • Use figurative language. Using things such as symbolism or metaphors can help you give your readers something to compare it to. For example, saying that the couch was, "as hard as a rock," helps to describe what the couch feels like. Personification is another fun way to add description to your writing. This means that you give human qualities to inanimate objects. For example, "My heart nearly leapt out of my chest when I saw that puppy."
  • Show don’t tell. Telling your readers goes like this, "He walked over to the stage and they gave him the award." Showing your readers goes like this, "His feet felt like they were walking on air, as he bounced toward the stage. An award like this was a dream he could never have imagined coming true." Show or describe what is happening, rather than simply stating it.

Use these tips and you’ll find that your writing will jump right off the page. Your readers will feel like a movie is showing inside their heads, because you gave them all the details they needed to truly "see" it.

Time4Writing provides practice in this area. View our coursework available in Elementary Grammar or browse other related courses.

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