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A Beginner’s Guide To Descriptive Writing

A pen writing on a paper

Descriptive writing is an art form of its own, with flowing words and beautiful descriptions that depict the feelings felt and sights seen by the protagonist or narrator in a seemingly effortless manner. Beginners often struggle with creating a picture of places and things in the reader’s mind through words alone.

Here’s how you can improve your descriptive writing skills:

Include sensory details

You have five whole senses, and it’s more than likely that your character has them too—make use of them! Good descriptive writing includes a wide variety of vivid sensory details that help readers to paint a picture of the current scene in their minds. Appeal to all five of the senses by incorporating descriptions of the sights, sounds, feelings, smells, and tastes whenever appropriate. You can also include the feelings that get invoked in you as a writer when you’re talking about a certain place, person, or thing.

Figurative language

Make use of figurative language in your descriptive writing to help your reader paint an even clearer image of the scene that you’re trying to convey in their mind. While there are many different ways to go about doing this, some examples are to use similes to make a comparison between two things, or use a metaphor that compares two different things without using the word ‘like’.

Choose a dominant theme

When you’re planning out your descriptive essay or story, focus on a few select details that can help your reader feel what you’re feeling, see what you’re seeing, and experience what you’re experiencing. Create one dominant expression which can relate to all of the major details, such as the quiet of a summer night, or the hustle and bustle of a street.

The dominant impression brings unity to the description and gives readers a better sense of what the scene, object, or person looks like. Make sure to use precise language—getting too vague will distort the image you’re trying to create in your reader’s mind.

A person writing in a diary

Learn more about descriptive writing with Author Stephani Hart

Stephanie Hart is the author of young adult fiction novel Is There Any Way Out of Sixth Grade? She taught budding young writers at The Fashion Institute of Technology, and has years of experience with practicing descriptive writing, especially in her memoir, Mirror Mirror: A Collection of Memoirs and Stories. Many of her short stories and essays have appeared in literary magazines and anthologies such as The Best Stories from ducts.org.

You can check out her stories to get a clearer idea on how descriptive writing works. Find out more about her work today!

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