Description in Creative Writing: Be Specific!

Julius Thompson

Be specific!
That’s the clarion call to all creative writers as you pull your readers into your fictive dream. That’s the reason description is an art form.
Description is simply a portrayal, in words, of something that can be perceived by the senses. Each time you use a word or phrase to describe a person, a setting or any other aspect of writing, it must be clear, concise and straight to the point of the situation.
As a writer, you are painting a word picture so the reader “sees” exactly what you are describing. It vividly portrays a person, place, or thing in such a way that the reader can visualize the topic and enter into the writer’s experience or the fictive dream.
Descriptive Goals as you Write:
***Writer’s create descriptions by using images with elaborate use of sensory language: Sight, sound, taste, feel, etc. It must be vivid.
***Writer’s use figurative language such as simile, hyperbole, metaphor, symbolism and personification.
***Writer’s use “Show, Don’t Tell” through the use of active Verbs and creative adjectives. When a writer really wants to go in depth in a scene he will use “show” and the mental movie rolls in the reader’s mind. When the writer wants to get a quick point or speed up a scene he will use “tell” in the scene.
Thoughts on Descriptive Writing:
• Make writing more concrete or vivid
• Add specific information
• Show sensory images
• Make comparisons
• Use dialogue
• Make writing more interesting
• Make characters come alive
Descriptive Writing Exercises:
Note: Keep a Descriptive Journal where you keep all your writing exercises. This will be a fantastic future reference to see your improvement as a writer.
1. Observe and then describe an event.
2. Walk outside your apartment or house and describe it in two ways:
a. Tell: Write a bare-bone version of the walk with few descriptions.
b. Show: Write a full-blown description of your walk with many descriptions: Use adjectives, descriptive phrases, metaphors, similes, etc.
c. Read each version out loud: You will see which version put the reader into the scene.
3. Reflect on a person or object that stands out in your memory. Write a description of the person/object.
4. Take a photograph, for example, and then describe the person, setting with the bare-bone approach and then the full-blown approach.Email me with an example you created from one of these writing exercise:
Happy Writing!