Descriptive writing

When creating a piece of descriptive work, one of the main considerations is to think about the words you are using.

A piece of work can be transformed by using more powerful verbs and adjectives.

For example, instead of describing a meal as “nice” consider using nutritious, tasty, or wholesome instead.

Use variety in the language that you choose. Nothing gets repetitive quicker than the recurring use or certain words or phrases: and then, and then and then…

Consider using alternatives such as next, finally, following that, later.

If you find you are consistently starting the sentence with “I” or “he/she” etc, consider restricting the order of the words in the sentence: I went to the cinema at 6pm. By 6pm I arrived at the cinema.

Use all your senses to describe something. This is an ideal time to also consider using metaphors and similes to add an extra depth and level of interest to your work:

His flesh was pungent like stagnant water.

Her skin felt rough like broken glass.

His heart was hard as stone.

Descriptive language is needed to help the story have depth and reality but be careful not to just list facts:

As you walk in the door there is an old brown chair on the right, with a cat asleep on it.

An old, fusty, brown chair sat just inside the door. It looked like no-one had sat in it for years accept the tired, old, black cat that dozed quietly there now.

When you are describing people make sure it is believable. Think about how someone might look, talk, think, act. The language used by a teenager will be considerably different to that of a pensioner. The actions of a stunt actor will be different to that of a toddler. A businessperson going in to make a pitch of a lifetime probably wouldn’t wear tracksuit trousers (unless it was a sports brand he was promoting) but a bank robber may not wear his Gucci suit…

Again, avoid using lists. He wore a grey suit and black shoes.

He felt the soft fabric od his favourite suit sit against his collar. It gave him confidence. His black shoes shined from the hours of rubbing to make them gleam and look their absolute best. He felt prepared.

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