Writing Forward

A Guide to Descriptive Writing

by Melissa Donovan | Jan 7, 2021 | Creative Writing | 8 comments

descriptive writing

What is descriptive writing?

Writing description is a necessary skill for most writers. Whether we’re writing an essay, a story, or a poem, we usually reach a point where we need to describe something. In fiction, we describe settings and characters. In poetry, we describe scenes, experiences, and emotions. In creative nonfiction, we describe reality. Descriptive writing is especially important for speculative fiction writers and poets. If you’ve created a fantasy world, then you’ll need to deftly describe it to readers; Lewis Carroll not only described Wonderland  (aff link); he also described the fantastical creatures that inhabited it.

But many writers are challenged by description writing, and many readers find it boring to read — when it’s not crafted skillfully.

However, I think it’s safe to say that technology has spoiled us. Thanks to photos and videos, we’ve become increasingly visual, which means it’s getting harder to use words to describe something, especially if it only exists in our imaginations.

What is Descriptive Writing?

One might say that descriptive writing is the art of painting a picture with words. But descriptive writing goes beyond visuals. Descriptive writing hits all the senses; we describe how things look, sound, smell, taste, and feel (their tactile quality).

The term descriptive writing can mean a few different things:

  • The act of writing description ( I’m doing some descriptive writing ).
  • A descriptive essay is short-form prose that is meant to describe something in detail; it can describe a person, place, event, object, or anything else.
  • Description as part of a larger work: This is the most common kind of descriptive writing. It is usually a sentence or paragraph (sometimes multiple paragraphs) that provide description, usually to help the reader visualize what’s happening, where it’s happening, or how it’s happening. It’s most commonly used to describe a setting or a character. An example would be a section of text within a novel that establishes the setting by describing a room or a passage that introduces a character with a physical description.
  • Writing that is descriptive (or vivid) — an author’s style: Some authors weave description throughout their prose and verse, interspersing it through the dialogue and action. It’s a style of writing that imparts description without using large blocks of text that are explicitly focused on description.
  • Description is integral in poetry writing. Poetry emphasizes imagery, and imagery is rendered in writing via description, so descriptive writing is a crucial skill for most poets.

Depending on what you write, you’ve probably experimented with one of more of these types of descriptive writing, maybe all of them.

Can you think of any other types of descriptive writing that aren’t listed here?

How Much Description is Too Much?

Classic literature was dense with description whereas modern literature usually keeps description to a minimum.

Compare the elaborate descriptions in J.R.R. Tolkien’s  Lord of the Rings  trilogy  with the descriptions in J.K. Rowling’s  Harry Potter series  (aff links). Both series relied on description to help readers visualize an imagined, fantastical world, but Rowling did not use her precious writing space to describe standard settings whereas Tolkien frequently paused all action and spent pages describing a single landscape.

This isn’t unique to Tolkien and Rowling; if you compare most literature from the beginning of of the 20th century and earlier to today’s written works, you’ll see that we just don’t dedicate much time and space to description anymore.

I think this radical change in how we approach description is directly tied to the wide availability of film, television, and photography. Let’s say you were living in the 19th century, writing a story about a tropical island for an audience of northern, urban readers. You would be fairly certain that most of your readers had never seen such an island and had no idea what it looked like. To give your audience a full sense of your story’s setting, you’d need pages of detail describing the lush jungle, sandy beaches, and warm waters.

Nowadays, we all know what a tropical island looks like, thanks to the wide availability of media. Even if you’ve never been to such an island, surely you’ve seen one on TV. This might explain why few books on the craft of writing address descriptive writing. The focus is usually on other elements, like language, character, plot, theme, and structure.

For contemporary writers, the trick is to make the description as precise and detailed as possible while keeping it to a minimum. Most readers want characters and action with just enough description so that they can imagine the story as it’s unfolding.

If you’ve ever encountered a story that paused to provide head-to-toe descriptions along with detailed backstories of every character upon their introduction into the narrative, you know just how grating description can be when executed poorly.

However, it’s worth noting that a skilled writer can roll out descriptions that are riveting to read. Sometimes they’re riveting because they’re integrated seamlessly with the action and dialogue; other times, the description is deftly crafted and engaging on its own. In fact, an expert descriptive writer can keep readers glued through multiple pages of description.

Descriptive Writing Tips

I’ve encountered descriptive writing so smooth and seamless that I easily visualized what was happening without even noticing that I was reading description. Some authors craft descriptions that are so lovely, I do notice — but in a good way. Some of them are so compelling that I pause to read them again.

On the other hand, poorly crafted descriptions can really impede a reader’s experience. Description doesn’t work if it’s unclear, verbose, or bland. Most readers prefer action and dialogue to lengthy descriptions, so while a paragraph here and there can certainly help readers better visualize what’s happening, pages and pages of description can increase the risk that they’ll set your work aside and never pick it up again. There are exceptions to every rule, so the real trick is to know when lengthy descriptions are warranted and when they’re just boring.

Here are some general tips for descriptive writing:

  • Use distinct descriptions that stand out and are memorable. For example, don’t write that a character is five foot two with brown hair and blue eyes. Give the reader something to remember. Say the character is short with mousy hair and sky-blue eyes.
  • Make description active: Consider the following description of a room: There was a bookshelf in the corner. A desk sat under the window. The walls were beige, and the floor was tiled. That’s boring. Try something like this: A massive oak desk sat below a large picture window and beside a shelf overflowing with books. Hardcovers, paperbacks, and binders were piled on the dingy tiled floor in messy stacks.  In the second example, words like  overflowing  and  piled are active.
  • Weave description through the narrative: Sometimes a character enters a room and looks around, so the narrative needs to pause to describe what the character sees. Other times, description can be threaded through the narrative. For example, instead of pausing to describe a character, engage that character in dialogue with another character. Use the characters’ thoughts and the dialogue tags to reveal description: He stared at her flowing, auburn curls, which reminded him of his mother’s hair. “Where were you?” he asked, shifting his green eyes across the restaurant to where a customer was hassling one of the servers.

Simple descriptions are surprisingly easy to execute. All you have to do is look at something (or imagine it) and write what you see. But well-crafted descriptions require writers to pay diligence to word choice, to describe only those elements that are most important, and to use engaging language to paint a picture in the reader’s mind. Instead of spending several sentences describing a character’s height, weight, age, hair color, eye color, and clothing, a few, choice details will often render a more vivid image for the reader: Red hair framed her round, freckled face like a spray of flames. This only reveals three descriptive details: red hair, a round face, and freckles. Yet it paints more vivid picture than a statistical head-to-toe rundown:  She was five foot three and no more than a hundred and ten pounds with red hair, blue eyes, and a round, freckled face.

descriptive writing practice

10 descriptive writing practices.

How to Practice Writing Description

Here are some descriptive writing activities that will inspire you while providing opportunities to practice writing description. If you don’t have much experience with descriptive writing, you may find that your first few attempts are flat and boring. If you can’t keep readers engaged, they’ll wander off. Work at crafting descriptions that are compelling and mesmerizing.

  • Go to one of your favorite spots and write a description of the setting: it could be your bedroom, a favorite coffee shop, or a local park. Leave people, dialogue, and action out of it. Just focus on explaining what the space looks like.
  • Who is your favorite character from the movies? Describe the character from head to toe. Show the reader not only what the character looks like, but also how the character acts. Do this without including action or dialogue. Remember: description only!
  • Forty years ago we didn’t have cell phones or the internet. Now we have cell phones that can access the internet. Think of a device or gadget that we’ll have forty years from now and describe it.
  • Since modern fiction is light on description, many young and new writers often fail to include details, even when the reader needs them. Go through one of your writing projects and make sure elements that readers may not be familiar with are adequately described.
  • Sometimes in a narrative, a little description provides respite from all the action and dialogue. Make a list of things from a story you’re working on (gadgets, characters, settings, etc.), and for each one, write a short description of no more than a hundred words.
  • As mentioned, Tolkien often spent pages describing a single landscape. Choose one of your favorite pieces of classic literature, find a long passage of description, and rewrite it. Try to cut the descriptive word count in half.
  • When you read a book, use a highlighter to mark sentences and paragraphs that contain description. Don’t highlight every adjective and adverb. Look for longer passages that are dedicated to description.
  • Write a description for a child. Choose something reasonably difficult, like the solar system. How do you describe it in such a way that a child understands how he or she fits into it?
  • Most writers dream of someday writing a book. Describe your book cover.
  • Write a one-page description of yourself.

If you have any descriptive writing practices to add to this list, feel free to share them in the comments.

Descriptive Writing

Does descriptive writing come easily to you, or do you struggle with it? Do you put much thought into how you write description? What types of descriptive writing have you tackled — descriptive essays, blocks of description within larger texts, or descriptions woven throughout a narrative? Share your tips for descriptive writing by leaving a comment, and keep writing!

Further Reading: Abolish the Adverbs , Making the Right Word Choices for Better Writing , and Writing Description in Fiction .

Ready Set Write a Guide to Creative Writing

I find descriptions easier when first beginning a scene. Other ones I struggle with. Yes, intertwining them with dialogue does help a lot.

Melissa Donovan

I have the opposite experience. I tend to dive right into action and dialogue when I first start a scene.

R.G. Ramsey

I came across this article at just the right time. I am just starting to write a short story. This will change the way I describe characters in my story.

Thank you for this. R.G. Ramsey

You’re welcome!


Great tips and how to practise and improve our descriptive writing skills. Thank you for sharing.

You’re welcome, Bella.

Stanley Johnson

Hello Melissa

I have read many of your articles about different aspects of writing and have enjoyed all of them. What you said here, I agree with, with the exception of #7. That is one point that I dispute and don’t understand the reason why anyone would do this, though I’ve seen books that had things like that done to them.

To me, a book is something to be treasured, loved and taken care of. It deserves my respect because I’m sure the author poured their heart and soul into its creation. Marking it up that way is nothing short of defacing it. A book or story is a form of art, so should a person mark over a picture by Rembrandt or any other famous painter? You’re a very talented author, so why would you want someone to mark through the words you had spent considerable time and effort agonizing over, while searching for the best words to convey your thoughts?

If I want to remember some section or point the author is making, then I’ll take a pen and paper and record the page number and perhaps the first few words of that particular section. I’ve found that writing a note this way helps me remember it better. This is then placed inside the cover for future reference. If someone did what you’ve suggested to a book of mine, I’d be madder than a ‘wet hen’, and that person would certainly be told what I thought of them.

In any of the previous articles you’ve written, you’ve brought up some excellent points which I’ve tried to incorporate in my writing. Keep up the good work as I know your efforts have helped me, and I’m sure other authors as well.

Hi Stanley. Thanks so much for sharing your point of view. I appreciate and value it.

Marking up a book is a common practice, especially in academia. Putting notes in margins, underlining, highlighting, and tagging pages with bookmarks is standard. Personally, I mark up nonfiction paperbacks, but I never mark up fiction paperbacks or any hardcovers (not since college).

I completely respect your right to keep your books in pristine condition. And years ago, when I started college, I felt exactly the same way. I was horrified that people (instructors and professors!) would fill their books with ugly yellow highlighting and other markips. But I quickly realized that this was shortsighted.

Consider an old paperback that is worn and dog-eared. With one look, you know this book has been read many times and it’s probably loved. It’s like the Velveteen Rabbit of books. I see markups as the same — that someone was engaging with the book and trying to understand it on a deeper level, which is not disrespectful. It’s something to be celebrated.

Sometimes we place too much value on the book as a physical object rather than what’s inside. I appreciate a beautiful book as much as anyone but what really matters to me is the information or experience that it contains. I often read on a Kindle. Sometimes I listen to audio books. There is no physical book. The experience is not lessened.

I understand where you’re coming from. I used to feel the same way, but my mind was changed. I’m not trying to change yours, but I hope you’ll understand.


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What is Descriptive Writing? Techniques and Tips

Julia mccoy.

Creator and Co-founder

You’ve likely read a book or an article that painted such vivid pictures in your mind, you felt like you were there. That’s the magic of descriptive writing.

So, what is descriptive writing? It’s all about creating a detailed picture using words. Whether you’re describing a bustling city street or the serene countryside at dawn, good descriptive writing brings scenes to life.

If you’ve ever struggled with making your readers see what you see and feel what you feel, then keep reading. You’ll discover key tips and techniques that can transform your descriptions from bland to brilliant.

Table Of Contents:

What is descriptive writing, elements of effective descriptive writing, techniques for mastering descriptive writing, applications of descriptive writing, descriptive writing examples in literature, how to improve your descriptive writing skills, bring your ideas to life with descriptive writing.

Descriptive writing techniques use language to create a detailed, sensory experience for the reader. It’s about choosing words that evoke sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and textures, bringing the subject to life on the page.

Whether you’re describing a person, a place, an object, or an event, the goal is to help the reader visualize and experience it as vividly as possible. It’s like giving them a front-row seat to the story you’re telling.

So why bother with descriptive writing?

Because it’s a powerful tool for engaging and immersing your reader. When you use vivid, sensory language to describe something, you’re not just conveying information – you’re creating an emotional connection.

Think about it: would you rather read a dry, factual account of a place or a rich, evocative description that makes you feel like you’re there?

Descriptive writing has the power to transport us, to make us feel and imagine and connect on a deeper level.

Types of Descriptive Writing

Descriptive writing can take many forms, from poetry and prose to essays and articles. Some common types include:

  • Descriptions of people, places, and things
  • Character sketches and profiles
  • Setting and atmosphere in fiction
  • Sensory writing in poetry and prose
  • Vivid imagery in nature writing and travel blogs

No matter the form it takes, the key to effective descriptive writing is always the same: using specific, concrete language to create a vivid sensory experience for the reader.

Alright, so we know what descriptive writing is and why it matters. But how do you actually do it?

What makes a piece of descriptive writing effective and engaging?

As someone who’s been honing my descriptive writing skills for years, I’ve found that there are a few key elements that can make all the difference. Let’s break them down.

Vivid Sensory Details

This is the bread and butter of descriptive writing. To really immerse your reader in the experience, you need to engage as many of their senses as possible. That means using specific, concrete language to describe sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and textures.

For example, don’t just say “The room was cold.”

Say “The icy chill seeped into my bones, making me shiver uncontrollably.”

The more specific and sensory your language, the more vivid the experience will be for your reader.

Strong Word Choice

The words you choose can make or break your descriptive writing. Aim for precise, evocative language that paints a clear picture in the reader’s mind.

For example, don’t just say “The sky was blue,”

Try, “The sky was a deep, endless azure, stretching out as far as the eye could see.”

The right words can make all the difference in bringing your descriptions to life.

Figurative Language

Figurative language techniques like similes, metaphors, and personification can add depth and creativity to your descriptive writing. By comparing two unlike things or attributing human qualities to non-human objects, you can create unique, memorable images that stick with your reader.

For example, don’t just say “The wind was strong.”

You could write, “The wind howled like a pack of hungry wolves, tearing at my clothes and hair.”

Figurative language can help you convey complex ideas and emotions in a fresh, imaginative way.

Show vs. Tell

One of the cardinal rules of good writing is “show, don’t tell.” This is especially true in descriptive writing, where the goal is to immerse the reader in the experience.

Instead of simply telling the reader how a character feels, show it through their actions, dialogue, and body language.

Instead of stating that a place is beautiful, describe the specific details that make it so.

By showing rather than telling, you allow the reader to experience the story for themselves.

Engage the Reader’s Senses

At the end of the day, the most effective descriptive writing is that which fully engages the reader’s senses.

The more vividly you can describe the sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and textures of your subject, the more immersive and engaging your writing will be.

So don’t be afraid to get creative with your language and paint a picture for your reader.

Transport them into the scene and make them feel like they’re right there with you.

That’s the power of great descriptive writing.

So you want to level up your descriptive writing skills? As someone who’s been practicing and teaching this craft for years, I’ve picked up a few techniques that can help take your descriptions to the next level.

It’s not always easy – believe me, I’ve spent hours agonizing over the perfect word or phrase to capture a moment. But with a little practice and some key strategies, you can start crafting descriptions that jump off the page and transport your reader.

Observe and Take Notes

One of the most important skills for any writer is observation. The more you pay attention to the world around you – the sights, sounds, smells, and textures of everyday life – the richer your writing will be.

Get in the habit of carrying a notebook with you and jotting down observations and sensory details as you go about your day.

The way the light filters through the trees in the park, the sound of rain pattering on a tin roof, and the smell of freshly baked bread wafting from a nearby bakery – these are all details you can use to bring your descriptions to life.

Read and Analyze Descriptive Passages

Another great way to improve your descriptive writing is to study the work of writers you admire. Pay attention to how they use language to create vivid, immersive scenes and evoke specific moods and emotions.

Try copying particularly effective passages by hand, really focusing on the word choice and sentence structure.

What makes this description so powerful? How does the author engage the senses and create a strong sense of place or character?

By analyzing the techniques of skilled writers, you can start to incorporate those same strategies into your work.

Practice with Writing Prompts

Of course, the best way to improve your descriptive writing is simply to practice, practice, practice. And one of my favorite ways to do that is with writing prompts.

There are tons of prompts out there specifically designed to help you flex your descriptive writing muscles. Some of my favorites include:

  • Describe a place that holds special meaning for you, using all five senses.
  • Write a character sketch of someone you know well, focusing on their physical appearance, mannerisms, and personality quirks.
  • Describe a memorable meal in vivid detail, from the taste and texture of the food to the atmosphere of the restaurant.

The key is to really immerse yourself in the prompt and let your imagination run wild. Don’t worry about perfection – just focus on capturing the essence of the moment in all its sensory glory.

Revise and Edit Your Work

Once you’ve got a draft down, go back and look for opportunities to spice up your language and add even more sensory detail.

Are there any cliches or generic phrases you can replace with something more specific and evocative? Can you add a metaphor or simile to help the reader visualize the scene more vividly? Is there a way to engage even more of the senses – perhaps by describing a sound or a smell you hadn’t considered before?

The editing process is where you can take your descriptive writing to the next level. So don’t be afraid to experiment, play with language, and see what works.

Descriptive writing is used in all sorts of ways – from creative writing to professional emails. Let’s take a look at some of the most common applications.

Creative Writing and Poetry

This one’s a no-brainer. Descriptive writing is the bread and butter of creative writing. It’s what brings your stories and poems to life, making them jump off the page and into your reader’s imagination.

Whether you’re writing a novel, a short story, or a poem , descriptive writing is what makes your writing, well, creative.

Without descriptive writing, your stories would be pretty boring. It’s the details that make them interesting.

The way the sun glints off the water, the smell of freshly baked pie, the sound of leaves crunching underfoot. These are the things that make your writing come alive.

Travel Topics

If you’ve ever read a travel blog , you know how important descriptive writing is. It’s what makes you feel like you’re right there with the writer, experiencing everything they’re experiencing.

Whether they’re describing the bustling streets of Tokyo or the serene beauty of a deserted beach, descriptive writing is what makes you feel like you’re part of the journey.

And it’s not just about the sights and sounds. Descriptive writing can also convey the emotions and feelings of the writer.

The excitement of trying new food for the first time, the peace of watching the sunset over the ocean, and the awe of standing in front of an ancient monument. These are the things that make travel writing so compelling.

Descriptive Essays and Assignments

Remember those descriptive essays you had to write in high school and college? Descriptive writing is a key component of academic writing , especially when it comes to essays and assignments.

Whether you’re describing a person, a place, or an event, descriptive writing is what makes your essay come to life. It’s what makes your readers feel like they’re right there with you, experiencing everything you’re describing.

And let’s be real – a well-written descriptive essay is a lot more interesting to read than a boring old research paper.

Professional Writing and Emails

Bet you didn’t see this one coming, did you?

Believe it or not, descriptive writing has a place in professional writing too.

No, I’m not saying you should start waxing poetic about the color of the sky in your next work email .

But a little bit of descriptive language can go a long way in making your writing more engaging and persuasive.

Think about it – which email are you more likely to read? The one that’s dry and boring, or the one that’s lively and engaging?

I’m guessing it’s the latter.

Adding a little bit of descriptive language to your professional writing can make it more interesting to read, and more likely to get a response.

Alright, now that we’ve covered some of the applications of descriptive writing, let’s take a look at some examples from literature.

If you want to learn how to write descriptively, there’s no better place to look than the masters.

Excerpts from Novels and Short Stories

One of my favorite examples of descriptive writing in literature comes from the opening lines of Toni Morrison’s novel “Beloved” :

“124 was spiteful. Full of a baby’s venom. The women in the house knew it and so did the children. For years each put up with the spite in his own way, but by 1873 Sethe and her daughter Denver were its only victims.”

In just a few short sentences, Morrison manages to convey a sense of dread and unease that sets the tone for the entire novel. The personification of the house as “spiteful” and “full of a baby’s venom” is a brilliant use of descriptive language that immediately draws the reader in.

Another great example comes from the short story “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson. In the opening paragraph, Jackson describes the setting of the story:

“The morning of June 27th was clear and sunny, with the fresh warmth of a full-summer day; the flowers were blossoming profusely and the grass was richly green.”

The description of the weather and the natural surroundings creates a sense of normalcy and tranquility that is in stark contrast to the horrific events that unfold later in the story. It’s a masterful use of descriptive writing to create tension and suspense.

Passages from Memoirs and Autobiographies

Memoirs and autobiographies are another great source of descriptive writing. After all, what is more personal and evocative than someone’s own life story?

One of my favorite examples comes from Maya Angelou’s memoir “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” . In the opening chapter, Angelou describes her childhood home in Stamps, Arkansas:

“If growing up is painful for the Southern Black girl, being aware of her displacement is the rust on the razor that threatens the throat. It is an unnecessary insult.”

The metaphor of the razor threatening the throat is a powerful and visceral image that immediately conveys the sense of danger and oppression that Angelou experienced as a young black girl in the South. It’s a stunning example of how descriptive writing can be used to convey complex emotions and experiences.

Samples from Travel and Nature Writing

Travel and nature are two genres that rely heavily on descriptive language to transport the reader to another place and time. One of my favorite examples comes from the opening lines of John Steinbeck’s travelogue “Travels with Charley: In Search of America” :

“When I was very young and the urge to be someplace else was on me, I was assured by mature people that maturity would cure this itch. When years described me as mature, the remedy prescribed was middle age. In middle age I was assured that greater age would calm my fever and now that I am fifty-eight perhaps senility will do the job.”

Steinbeck’s wry humor and vivid imagery immediately draw the reader in and set the tone for the rest of the book. It’s a great example of how descriptive writing can be used to create a sense of place and personality.

Another great example comes from the nature writing of Annie Dillard. In her essay “Total Eclipse,” Dillard describes the experience of witnessing a total solar eclipse:

“The sky snapped over the sun like a lens cover. The hatch in the brain slammed. Abruptly it was dark night, on the land and in the sky. In the night sky was a tiny ring of light. The hole where the sun belongs is very small. A thin ring of light marked its place. There was no sound. The eyes dried, the arteries drained, the lungs hushed. There was no world.”

Dillard’s use of sensory details and metaphor creates a sense of awe and wonder that perfectly captures the experience of witnessing a total eclipse. It’s a stunning example of how descriptive writing can be used to convey the ineffable.

Descriptive writing is a powerful tool that can take your writing to the next level. But like any skill, it takes practice and dedication to master.

Here are a few tips to help you get started.

Seek Feedback and Critique

One way to improve your descriptive writing skills is to seek feedback and critique from others. Whether it’s a writing group, a workshop, or just a trusted friend or family member, getting an outside perspective on your writing can be incredibly valuable.

When seeking feedback, it’s important to be open to constructive criticism. Remember, the goal is to improve your writing, not to have your ego stroked. Look for feedback that is specific and actionable, and don’t be afraid to ask for clarification if you don’t understand something.

Read Different Genres

Another way to improve your descriptive writing skills is to read widely in different genres . Whether it’s fiction, non-fiction, poetry, or even technical writing, exposing yourself to a variety of writing styles and techniques can help you develop your own voice and style.

It’s also important to read critically. Don’t just read for pleasure, but also for analysis.

Ask yourself these questions: What makes this writing effective? What could be improved? How can I apply these techniques to my own writing?

Keep a Writing Journal

Use your writing journal to experiment with different styles and techniques. Try writing from different points of view, or in different genres. Use it to jot down observations and sensory details that you can incorporate into your writing later.

Most importantly, use your writing journal to write regularly. Even if it’s just for a few minutes a day, practice can help you develop your skills and find your voice as a writer.

So there you have it – a few tips and tricks to help you improve your descriptive writing skills. Remember, the key is to practice, seek feedback, read widely, and write regularly. With a little bit of dedication and hard work, you’ll be writing like a pro in no time.

Descriptive writing isn’t just about stringing together pretty words; it’s about crafting images so real they jump off the page.

Remember those sensory details we talked about? Use them wisely.

And don’t forget strong word choices! They make all the difference between nice and unforgettable.

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Descriptive Writing: Definition, Tips, Examples, and Exercises

Descriptive writing is about using the power of words to arouse the imagination, capture the attention, and create a lasting impact in the mind of the reader. In this article, you'll learn how to employ descriptive elements in your writing, tips to enhance your descriptive writing skills, and some exercises to better yourself at it.

Descriptive Writing

Descriptive writing is about using the power of words to arouse the imagination, capture the attention, and create a lasting impact in the mind of the reader. In this article, you’ll learn how to employ descriptive elements in your writing, tips to enhance your descriptive writing skills, and some exercises to better yourself at it.

Read the two sentences given below:

  • I felt tired at work today.
  • As the day wore on at work, I felt a cramp beginning to form at the nape of my neck, my eyes began to feel droopy, and the computer screen in front of me began blurring.

Which one of the two do you find more interesting to read? Most definitely the second one. This is because, while the first sentence merely tells you directly that ‘you felt tired at work today’, the second one explains the same experience in a much more vivid and relatable manner.

From this you can see that even something as simple as the above sentence can be transformed using literary devices that aid visualization, into something that someone can relate to. This is what descriptive writing is all about: heightening the sense of perception and alluring your reader to read ahead, because you have so much more to say.

Good Examples of Descriptive Writing

Given below are a couple of good pieces of descriptive writing from authors who know their business.

‘But the door slid slowly open before Lupin could reach it. Standing in the doorway, illuminated by the shivering flames in Lupin’s hand, was a cloaked figure that towered to the ceiling. Its face was completely hidden beneath its hood. Harry’s eyes darted downwards, and what he saw made his stomach contract. There was a hand protruding from the cloak and it was glistening, greyish, slimy-looking and scabbed, like something dead that had decayed in water…’ – Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling

‘I don’t know what I’d expected but it was something different than I saw. She looked unexpectedly young. Or, I suppose said better, she looked unexpectedly “not old”. Her hair, which was completely white, had a yellowish cast that could almost have been mistaken for a pale blond, and it was loose around her shoulders. And long. Longer than mine. No doubt she normally wore it pulled up in a bun, and such a style would have given her a more predictable little-old-lady look, but the way it was here now, parted on the side – long, loose, and straight – she seemed ageless as an ancient sculpture. This sense was enhanced by her skin. Though it had the fragile crepeyness of age, she had few wrinkles, especially across her forehead, which was smooth to a point of being almost waxy looking. She was of obvious northern Germanic heritage, with pale eyes and prominent features. Although she was not overweight, her bones were big and blunt, giving the impression of a tall, sturdy woman.’ – Twilight Children by Torey Hayden

Why be Descriptive While Writing?

  • The purpose of descriptive writing is to inspire imagination. When you put your mind into making a piece of writing more descriptive, you automatically begin to pay attention to detail and refine your perception about things. You begin to imagine them as much more than, say a  party hat or a hard-bound book . You begin to look at them as a tall, pink, pointed paper hat with tassels , and a book that had a gleaming golden spine, and weighed a few good pounds .
  • The next, and probably the most important benefit of descriptive writing is that in the process of trying to make the reader visualize what you want to say, you tend to use more interesting words. You want to convey a mental picture to your reader. So you’re bound to use words that might be unconventional or less-used. You will want to find words that exactly describe what you want to say, and will look for different words that mean the same. This will help you suitably build your vocabulary.
  • The success of descriptive writing lies in the details. The more detailed your depiction of a plot or a character or a place is, the more you engross your reader. You become a keen observer and minder of details. You pay attention to the tiniest bits of information and appearance, which in turn helps you transfer the details into your writing.
  • Since you have picked something to describe and have observed all its details, you are sure to understand the subject better. You may even come across bits and pieces that you may have missed the first time you looked at the object/subject in question. Thoroughly understanding what you’re going to write about is exceedingly important to the process of writing about it.

Tips you Can Use Identify what you’re about to describe

As you start with descriptive writing, identify exactly what you are setting out to describe. Usually, a descriptive piece will include the depiction of a person, a place, an experience, a situation, and the like. Anything that you experience or perceive about your subject can be the focal point of your descriptive writing. You build a backdrop by identifying an aspect of a subject that you want to describe.

Decide why you’re describing that particular aspect

While it can be a wonderful creative exercise to simply describe anything you observe, in descriptive writing, there is often a specific reason to describe whatever you have set out to describe. Tapping this reason can help you keep the description focused and infuse your language with the particular emotion or perspective that you want to convey to your readers.

Maintain a proper chronology/sequence Sometimes, you may get so caught up in making your work colorful and creative that you may end up having a mash-up of descriptions that follow no particular order. This will render the effort of writing useless as the various descriptions will simply confuse the reader. For instance, if you want to describe characters in a particular situation, begin by describing the setting, then proceed to the most important character of that particular situation, and then to the least important one (if necessary).

Use Imagery Imagery is the best tool you can employ in descriptive writing. Since you cannot show your reader what you are imagining, you need to paint a picture with words. You need to make the depiction of your imagination so potent that your reader will instantly be able to visualize what you are describing. However, don’t go overboard. Make sure that the focus does not dwindle stray. Keep your descriptions specific to the subject in question. The writing must be able to draw in the reader; hence, the writer should say things that the reader can relate to or empathize with. An introductory backdrop can often provide an effective setting for the remaining part of the piece. Great descriptive writing has the ability to lure the reader, enticing him or her to continue reading right to the end. While giving the details is important, it is how they are presented that makes the difference.

Hone the senses One of the most effective ways to make the experience you are describing vivid for your reader is to use the five senses: smell, sight, sound, taste, and touch. When the descriptions are focused on the senses, you provide specific and vivid details in such a way that it shows your reader what you are describing. So, when you describe a subject, depict it in such a manner that it involves the reader’s possible sensory interpretations. It must make the reader imagine what he would see, hear, smell, taste, or feel when he reads what you have written.

She gently squeezed the juice out of the plump, red tomato. She blended this juice into the simmering mix of golden-brown onions and garlic in the pan, and watched as they melded into each other. She then added the spice mixture that she had prepared, and the air was permeated with a mouth-watering aroma.

Use strong nouns and verbs effectively, adjectives intelligently It is true that the purpose of adjectives is to describe a subject, but overuse of adjectives in descriptive writing can render the piece shallow and hollow. Hence, make it a point to use other parts of speech to express the same sentiment. You’ll be surprised how effectively nouns, verbs and adverbs can be used to describe something, sometimes even better than adjectives alone. For instance, look at the two sentences below.

  • The flowers were as fresh as the morning dew.
  • The flowers had a freshness that could only equal that of the glistening morning dew.

The first sentence has used an adjective (fresh)  to describe the flowers. It is a good description too, because the comparison to morning dew is something that will immediately put the reader in the sense of mind that you want. The second sentence too has compared the freshness to morning dew, but has used a noun (freshness) and a verb (equal)  to do so, and in the process has probably enticed the reader to continue reading, more than the first sentence.

Pick related words Before you actually begin writing, it is always a good idea to build a word bank of related words and ideas. For instance, if you are going to be describing a flower arrangement, you could jot down a few ideas before you start describing it, like: vase, color, types of flowers, leaves, stem, style, shape, fresh, etc. Once you have these basic words, you could start descriptive sentences for each one. Then, carry on from there.

Display passion Impact is what you’re looking to create in the minds of your readers. You want your readers to relate and empathize with what you’re writing. This will be close to impossible if your work does not reflect the passion that you feel for it. Make them feel what you feel with the words you write. Language that relates to powerful emotions such as love, hatred, admiration, disgust, etc., can convey the range and intensity of the sentiment that you are trying to express. Use them to your favor and get the desired effect.

Exercises to Enhance Descriptive Writing

Given below are some simple, yet effective exercises that you can use to better yourself at descriptive writing.

Exercise 1 Decide on an everyday action, say ‘making a pot of coffee’ and write about it in a descriptive manner. Give yourself 3 words that you’re not allowed to use while writing about it. You’ll see yourself reaching for the thesaurus, which will help improve your vocabulary.

Exercise 2 Pick random objects like a hat, a burger, a chair, etc., and place them before you. Enlist the different names that these objects can be called. Describe each of the objects in sentences that have more than 15 words each. Be as imaginative as you can.

Get your ‘assignments’ read by an objective person to see if they can relate to and understand properly what you have tried to convey.

Make descriptive writing a rewarding experience, both for your reader and yourself. If you like what you write, chances are that your reader will too. As is evident, having a comprehensive vocabulary is the key to good descriptive writing. But mere vocabulary will fall short if your piece lacks passion, logic and interest. The trouble is that it can easily become an incoherent rambling of senses and emotions. To avoid that, present what you are writing about in a logical and organized sequence of thoughts, so that the reader comes away from it with a cogent sense of what you have attempted to describe.

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How to Write a Descriptive Text

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A descriptive text usually describes a single location, object, event, person, or place. It endeavors to engage all five of the reader’s senses to evoke the sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and feel of the text’s subject.

As with all writing genres, we can guide our students on how to best organize and structure a descriptive text effectively.

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at how to choose a topic for a descriptive text, prepare an outline, and ultimately produce a well-written descriptive text.

Let’s get started!

Visual Writing


Step #1 select a topic.

Generally, descriptive texts are narrow in focus. This allows for an in-depth exploration of the subject. If ever the old adage show, don’t tell applied to a writing genre , descriptive texts are it.

Whether you are choosing a topic for your students, or they are choosing what to write about themselves, be sure the topic is something that can sustain their interest, as well as the reader’s interest.

Descriptive essays require the writer to go into great depth to evoke the person, place, or thing. If the writer doesn’t care about the topic, then for sure the reader won’t either.

A good starting point for many students is to ask them to write about something that is very personal to them. For example, childhood memories, embarrassing moments, or a favorite holiday make good topics.

As the purpose of a descriptive text is to describe something so vividly, and to express emotion so clearly, that the reader can feel it too, personal topics can provide the perfect material for this type of essay.

It is easier for us to describe those things we have intimate knowledge of. This is why memories make such rich fodder for this type of essay.

We can think back to what things looked like, sounded like, smelled like, tasted like, and felt like. We can reconjure in our mind’s eye what it was like to experience that memory at the time, making it easier for us to recreate it again in the minds of our readers.

It is worth investing some time to select a suitable topic for a descriptive text. A well-chosen topic can go a long way to kick-starting some good writing by your students.


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descriptive text | what is a thesis statement 1 | How to Write a Descriptive Text | literacyideas.com

The purpose of a descriptive essay is also to inform the reader on a particular topic, event, or experience.

However, some topics are extremely broad and without setting out a clear focus for their writing, there is a danger that students writing can veer off course as they scramble to share with the reader everything they know about their chosen topic.

To avoid this, it is essential that students narrow down which aspects of their selected topic their essay will concern itself with. An effective means of doing this is by writing a thesis statement.

The thesis statement lays out the specific purpose of the text and usually it is embedded in the introductory paragraph.

While it can be difficult at times for students to define their thesis statement for a descriptive text, the following process should help guide students:

  • Choose an interesting topic
  • Reflect on what you think about this topic
  • Consider the reasons for your point of view
  • Compose a statement that encapsulates this viewpoint.

Following the process above will help students to write a thesis statement that performs the two defining tasks of a thesis statement, namely:

i. To define the topic

ii. To state a viewpoint.

While the thesis statement in a descriptive essay is not as central as in, say, a persuasive essay , it still serves the important function of orienting the reader while providing the writer with a clear focus for their energies.


 The clue is the title! To evoke the subject in the minds of the readers, your students will need to drill down into the essence of the thing itself.

 So, how can we convey this essence in the printed word?

We experience the world around us through our senses and it is through the use of sensory language that our students will evoke the essence of the thing they are writing about.

To help your students do this, have them create a five-column table on a sheet of paper.

Each column will be labelled with the name of one of the five senses: sight, sound, smell, taste, touch. Students will then brainstorm the various feelings and sensations they associate with their essay’s topic, and they’ll then list their ideas in the appropriate column on the sheet of paper.

While, for the most part, descriptive texts are nonfiction texts, there is still plenty of room here for students to exercise their creative faculties.

Encourage students to employ literary devices such as simile, metaphor, and personification to bring their sensory descriptions to life. This can also be a great opportunity to reinforce student understanding of the various literary devices themselves.

You can also encourage students to use a thesaurus to uncover suitable and interesting adjectives to help them evoke the essence of the thing itself.

Not only will this help them to produce a well-written descriptive text, but it will give them the opportunity to enhance their vocabulary as they work.

As students fill out the various details they have selected, remind students it’s important to always refer back to their thesis statement.

Remember, every point a student makes in their essay should be in support of their thesis statement.


Now that your students have selected an engaging topic, produced a solid thesis statement, and gathered together lots of relevant sensory detail, they’ll need to create a clear outline to organize and inform the writing process .

As with many types of essays, the standard five-paragraph essay structure will serve well here. This structure works as follows:

Paragraph 1: The opening paragraph introduces the main topic viewpoint of the essay. This will usually include a thesis statement. 

Paragraphs 2,3, & 4: These are considered the body paragraphs of the essay, with each paragraph exploring one of the supporting arguments that prove the thesis statement. More body paragraphs may be added as needed.

Paragraph 5: The purpose of the conclusion paragraph is to restate the thesis statement, summarize the various points made in the essay itself, and to leave the reader with something to think about.

This standard format provides a helpful template for students to outline their descriptive text before writing. It will help ensure their writing stays focused and moves forward in a coherent manner.

descriptive text | descriptive writing template 1 | How to Write a Descriptive Text | literacyideas.com


By this stage, students have laid more than enough groundwork to get started writing in earnest.

While they should refer closely to the prep work they have done already, students should also be encouraged to let things flow too.

Writing is as much art as it is science. Having a clear, disciplined structure in place from the previous steps will allow students the freedom to take chances and get creative in their writing.

Sometimes students at this stage find it difficult to let go in their writing. They want things to be perfect the first time round.

Remind them that they shouldn’t be afraid to write less than perfect sentences in their first drafts. Getting their ideas on paper is the most important thing at this stage. They can always edit and rewrite later.

It’s important that students understand that good descriptive writing is not only filled with physical details, but includes emotional content too. Encourage your students to include the emotional significance of memories and events, people and places, too. This brings meaning to a text.

While they do this, remind them again that it is important to show rather than tell.

For example, rather than say The man was old , say something along the lines of, The man’s face was wrinkled with age .

While the first sentence makes a statement about the man’s age that tells the reader their age, the second shows the effect of age on the man’s looks.

Good descriptive writing needs to be specific, evocative, and believable.

Encourage students to be specific in the details they choose to share with the reader. The more specific they are, the easier it will be for the reader to see things in their mind’s eye.

To write evocatively, students will need to add some personal input into their writing. They must choose their language carefully to evoke a response in the reader. This is achieved by considering carefully the impression the word choice and sentence order creates, as well as how they frame the subject in their writing.

To ensure that writing is believable, students should be careful not to exaggerate or let their imagination run away with itself! While descriptive writing employs literary devices and draws on a writer’s creativity, it is not the place for fantastical hyperbole or over-flowery writing.

By bringing discipline to bear on the creative process, students will avoid their writing degenerating into mere word vomit.

STEP #6 Redraft, Edit, Proofread

For many students, this step is their least favorite. After reaching the required word count, many students are halfway out the door before the clack of the last keypress has died away.

But, this stage is crucial if students are to satisfactorily produce well-written descriptive essays. Encourage students to maintain focus as they redraft, edit, and proofread their writing.

Reviewing a finished draft is best done with the perspective of a little time. Where possible, encourage students to let a draft marinate overnight before tackling it. Masterpieces aren’t born fully formed into the world. They are moulded and crafted over time.

Where the student doesn’t have the luxury of leaving the piece overnight, perhaps they can go for a walk, or work on another task for a while, before returning to edit the piece. Any type of break away from the text will bring some freshness to their perspective.

When students are ready to review their work, instruct them that it is good policy to take a minimum of three run-throughs to ensure they catch everything that needs catching!

On the first run-through , students should look at structural issues to ensure the descriptive text is well-organized. For example:

  • Does it follow the standard five paragraph structure as outlined above?
  • Does it contain a thesis statement?
  • Is the thesis statement supported by each of the body paragraphs?
  • Does the conclusion restate the thesis, summarize the main points, and leave the reader with something to think about?

On the second run-through , students should examine the sentences that comprise the paragraphs, asking questions such as:

  • Do they follow a clear and coherent order?
  • Are they well-constructed and grammatically correct?
  • Are the length of the sentences varied?
  • Are the sentence structures varied?

On the third and final run-through , students should check word choice, spelling, and punctuation. They can do this by asking question such as:

  • Have any words been overused?
  • Have redundant words been removed?
  • Is the copy free from spelling errors?
  • Has the correct punctuation been used throughout?

One good way for students to check their own work is to read it aloud. This helps slow things down, making it more likely that they’ll catch smaller mistakes they may otherwise miss.

In Conclusion

Writing descriptive texts gives students an opportunity to flex their creative muscles. It challenges them to find new and innovative ways to use language to paint pictures in the minds of readers.

This can all be very daunting for some students, especially those who find writing difficult at the best of times.

The most effective way to encourage reluctant students to unleash the power of their imagination via the written word, is to provide them with a clear structure on which they can hang their words. The steps outlined above will provide this structure for your students.

But, as well as ensuring students have ample practice opportunities to write, be sure too that students have the opportunity to read well-written descriptive texts written by skilful writers, whether in the form of poetry, essays, or novels.


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descriptive text | How to Write a Descriptive Text | literacyideas.com

Writing effective descriptions

“Description begins in the writer’s imagination, but should finish in the reader’s.”

- Stephen King

Descriptive writing is a powerful tool that adds life and depth to your writing. Effective descriptions breathe life into your ideas and put the reader in the scene where those ideas live. If I want to write about my experience living in Japan, the best way I can relate that to another person is through description: the smell of the food, the sounds of the city, the beauty of the landscape.

Show don’t tell

This is one of the most important things to remember when writing descriptions. Don’t tell your reader what it was like, show them. Paint a picture to help them feel what you want them to feel and see what you want them to see.

Telling: I walked into the dark, creepy basement.

Showing: Stepping down into the basement, I reached out my hands to guide me through the dark, and I tried to ignore the mysterious smells creeping up my nose.

A basement is just a room. A room isn’t inherently creepy. It’s the details, the dark, the smells, the weird noises, that make it creepy. Telling the reader something is creepy doesn’t make them feel it. Using descriptive language to highlight the creepy details does.

Deliberate word choice

Does “big” mean the same thing as “massive”? Does “run” mean the same thing as “dash”? Not exactly. Deliberate word choice can go a long way towards making your descriptions more vivid (Bachman, Barnhart, & Krenzke, 1997, p. 53-54).

Plain word choice: Shannon ran and picked up her son just before a car drove by. Vivid word choice: Shannon dashed across the yard, grabbing her son away from the street just before a car raced by.

Less is more

The best descriptions are simple and to the point. You want to sprinkle your descriptions throughout your writing so that they complement the message you’re trying to convey, not bury it. Long, meandering descriptions derail the reader’s focus so they’re only thinking about what you’re describing, not what you’re writing about (Murdick, 2011, p. 115-116).

One of the best ways to learn any skill is to watch people who do it well. Reading is just as important to developing your writing skills as actually writing. Here are a few examples of effective use of descriptive language.

"The Snows of Kilimanjaro” Ernest Hemingway

Hemingway is famous for his straight-to-the-point writing style. Notice how, without much flowery language, he is able to paint a clear picture of the scene where the story is taking place. He does this by not describing everything. He describes the significant details, and he lets the reader fill in the blanks in their mind.

"’I Lost Literally Everything’: Historic Town Cleans Up After Catastrophic Flooding” Debbie Elliot

A news story like this is often just a collection of facts: number people displaced, hurt, or killed; the amount of property damage; inches of rain; etc. The problem with this is, when a hurricane hits the U.S., every news outlet in the country is going to be writing that exact story. Instead, Elliot zoomed in on the effects of the storm on individuals, and in doing so, she made the story about people instead of a storm.

"American Weirdness: Observations From an Expat” Rachel Donadio

This is a story completely about details. Instead of talking about the overarching cultural differences between France and the U.S., Donadio focuses on the little things. This is effective because it’s how people experience the world. Although this piece was written for a major news organization, it could easily be submitted for a school assignment about an experience you had while traveling.

Bachman, L., Barnhart, D., & Krenzke, L. (Eds.). (1997). Write for college. Wilmington, MA: Great Source Education Group.

Donadio, R. (2018, Sep. 18). American weirdness: Observations from an expat. The Atlantic. Retrieved from https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2018/09/expat-america- europe/570580/

Elliot, D. (2018, Sep. 17). ‘I lost literally everything’: Historic town cleans up after catastrophic flooding. NPR. Retrieved from https://www.npr.org/2018/09/17/648671344/historic-n-c-town-deals-with- flooding-after-florence-blows-through

Hemingway, Ernest. (1938). The snows of Kilimanjaro. University of Virginia. Retrieved from http://xroads.virginia.edu/~drbr/heming.html’

King, Stephen. (2002). On writing: A memoir of the craft. New York, NY: Pocket Books. Murdick, W. (2011). A student guide to college composition (2nd ed.). Fremont, CA: Jane Publishing Company.

Contributor: Tony DeFilippo

20 Descriptive Paragraph Examples: Mastering the Art of Vivid Writing

Descriptive writing is a powerful tool in a writer's arsenal. It helps paint a picture in the reader's mind, making the content more engaging and memorable. Whether you're a student, a professional writer, or someone looking to improve their writing skills, understanding how to craft compelling descriptive paragraphs is essential.

Descriptive writing is a powerful tool in a writer's arsenal. It helps paint a picture in the reader's mind, making the content more engaging and memorable. Whether you're a student, a professional writer, or someone looking to improve their writing skills, understanding how to craft compelling descriptive paragraphs is essential. In this article, we'll dive into the nuances of descriptive writing, provide 20 unique descriptive paragraph examples, and answer some common questions. Our focus keyword is "descriptive paragraph examples," which we'll explore in depth.

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Why Descriptive Writing Matters

Why Descriptive Writing Matters

Descriptive writing isn't just about detailing what something looks like. It's about engaging all the senses to create a vivid image. Good descriptive writing can transport readers to another place, evoke emotions, and leave a lasting impression. This is crucial in various forms of writing, including:

  • Creative Writing: Descriptive paragraphs bring stories to life.
  • Academic Writing: Detailed descriptions clarify complex concepts.
  • Marketing Content: Vivid descriptions make products and services more appealing.

The Elements of a Great Descriptive Paragraph

A successful descriptive paragraph includes several key elements:

  • Vivid Imagery: Use colorful and specific details.
  • Sensory Details: Engage all five senses to fully immerse the reader.
  • Figurative Language: Metaphors, similes, and personification add depth.
  • Specificity: Avoid vague descriptions; be precise and concrete.

20 Descriptive Paragraph Examples: Enhanced and Detailed

Descriptive writing is an art that involves vivid imagery and sensory details. Here are 20 enhanced and detailed descriptive paragraph examples to inspire your writing.

1. Tranquil Beach Scene

The sun sank slowly behind the horizon, casting a golden glow that kissed the tranquil beach. Waves whispered softly against the shore, their rhythmic dance soothing the soul. The salty air mingled with the faint aroma of coconut from a nearby vendor's sunscreen, creating a comforting scent. Seagulls cawed lazily, their calls adding to the serene ambiance. The sky transformed into a canvas of brilliant pinks and oranges, reflecting off the rippling water and creating a mesmerizing spectacle.

2. Bustling Market

The market thrummed with life as vendors loudly touted their fresh produce, their voices blending into a harmonious cacophony. Stalls overflowed with vibrant fruits and vegetables, each pile a rainbow of colors. The air was thick with the mingled scents of exotic spices, fresh herbs, and sizzling street food. Shoppers navigated the narrow aisles, their laughter and haggling creating a lively soundtrack. The sun cast a warm glow over the scene, illuminating the vivid tapestry of goods and people.

3. Autumn Forest

The forest was a riot of autumn colors, with leaves in every shade of red, orange, and yellow. They crunched underfoot, releasing a woody, earthy scent. The crisp air was filled with the soft rustling of leaves and the occasional chirp of birds. Sunlight filtered through the canopy, casting dappled shadows on the forest floor. A gentle breeze whispered through the trees, carrying the promise of approaching winter.

4. Cozy Fireplace

Nestled in the corner, the fireplace crackled and popped, its flames dancing and casting a warm, flickering glow across the room. The scent of burning wood mingled with the sweet aroma of a cinnamon-scented candle. Soft, plush armchairs invited relaxation, their cushions embracing anyone who sat down. The faint sound of jazz music played in the background, adding to the cozy, intimate atmosphere.

5. Rainy Day

Raindrops tapped persistently against the window, creating a soothing, rhythmic melody. The sky was a uniform shade of gray, and the air was cool and fresh, carrying the distinctive scent of rain-soaked earth. Puddles formed on the sidewalk, reflecting the muted light of the overcast sky. The occasional rumble of thunder added a dramatic undertone to the peaceful scene, while the gentle patter of rain provided a calming backdrop.

6. Mountain Hike

The mountain trail wound through dense forests of towering pines, their needles creating a soft, fragrant carpet underfoot. The air was crisp and invigorating, filled with the scent of pine resin and fresh earth. Occasional clearings offered breathtaking vistas of distant peaks, their snow-capped summits glistening in the sunlight. Birds soared overhead, their songs echoing through the trees. The distant sound of a waterfall added to the sense of adventure and natural wonder.

7. Spring Garden

The garden was a symphony of color and fragrance, a testament to spring's renewal. Tulips and daffodils swayed in the gentle breeze, their petals a vivid array of reds, yellows, and pinks. The air was filled with the sweet scent of blooming flowers, mingling with the earthy aroma of freshly turned soil. Bees buzzed industriously from blossom to blossom, while butterflies fluttered gracefully through the air. A stone path wound through the garden, inviting leisurely strolls and quiet contemplation.

8. Crowded City Street

The city street was alive with activity, a bustling hub of motion and sound. Cars honked impatiently, their drivers navigating through the crowded thoroughfare. Neon signs flashed brightly, advertising restaurants, theaters, and shops. The air was filled with the scent of street food—grilled meats, roasted chestnuts, and exotic spices—mingling with the ever-present smell of exhaust fumes. Pedestrians hurried along the sidewalks, their faces a blur of determination and distraction. Despite the chaos, there was an underlying rhythm, a heartbeat that defined the city's character.

9. Peaceful Meadow

The meadow stretched out like a green ocean, dotted with wildflowers in every conceivable color. Butterflies fluttered from bloom to bloom, their delicate wings adding splashes of color to the vibrant landscape. The air was fresh and sweet, filled with the scent of grass and wildflowers. A gentle breeze rustled the leaves of nearby trees, adding a whispering undertone to the peaceful scene. Birds sang melodiously, their songs creating a harmonious symphony of nature.

10. Snowy Winter Day

Snowflakes drifted softly from the sky, blanketing the world in a pristine layer of white. The air was crisp and cold, each breath visible in the frosty air. Trees stood tall and silent, their branches heavy with snow. The only sound was the crunch of footsteps in the snow, creating a serene and magical winter wonderland. The scent of pine and the faint aroma of wood smoke added to the festive atmosphere, promising warmth and comfort.

11. Desert Sunset

The desert was bathed in the warm, golden light of the setting sun. Sand dunes stretched as far as the eye could see, their curves highlighted by the fading light. The air was hot and dry, with the scent of sagebrush and dust. As the sun dipped below the horizon, the sky transformed into a breathtaking palette of oranges, pinks, and purples. The stillness of the desert amplified the beauty of the moment, creating a sense of peace and wonder.

12. Evening in the City

As night fell, the city came alive with lights and sounds. Streets were illuminated by countless neon signs and streetlights, casting a warm glow on the bustling thoroughfares. The hum of traffic and the buzz of conversation filled the air. Street performers entertained passersby with music, magic tricks, and acrobatics, adding to the vibrant atmosphere. The scent of food from nearby restaurants wafted through the air, making the city feel alive and inviting.

13. Serene Lake

The lake was a mirror, perfectly reflecting the surrounding mountains and trees. The water was calm, disturbed only by the occasional ripple from a fish breaking the surface. The air was fresh and clean, filled with the scent of pine and the distant aroma of a campfire. The gentle lapping of water against the shore added a soothing soundtrack to the natural beauty. It was a place of peace and tranquility, where one could escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

14. Night Sky

The night sky was a canvas of stars, each one twinkling like a tiny diamond. The Milky Way stretched across the sky, a faint band of light in the darkness. The air was cool and still, with the scent of night-blooming flowers adding to the sense of wonder. Crickets chirped softly, their song a gentle accompaniment to the celestial display. It was a reminder of the vastness and beauty of the universe, and the smallness of our place within it.

15. Busy Coffee Shop

The coffee shop buzzed with activity, a hive of energy and motion. Baristas moved quickly behind the counter, expertly crafting lattes, cappuccinos, and espressos. The rich aroma of freshly brewed coffee filled the air, mingling with the sweet scent of pastries and baked goods. Customers chatted animatedly, their conversations creating a lively and welcoming atmosphere. Soft jazz music played in the background, adding to the cozy ambiance.

16. Rainforest

The rainforest was alive with sound and color. Birds called out from the canopy, their songs a vibrant tapestry of notes. The air was thick with humidity, filled with the earthy scent of damp soil and decaying leaves. Lush greenery surrounded everything, with vibrant flowers adding splashes of color. The buzz of insects and the distant roar of a waterfall created a symphony of nature. Sunlight filtered through the dense foliage, casting dappled shadows on the forest floor.

17. Quiet Library

The library was a haven of quiet and contemplation. Tall shelves lined with books created a labyrinth of knowledge and stories. The scent of old paper and leather bindings filled the air, creating a comforting aroma. Soft light filtered through large windows, illuminating the reading nooks and study areas. The only sounds were the faint rustle of pages turning and the occasional whisper of a patron seeking assistance. It was a place where time seemed to stand still, offering a refuge from the outside world.

18. Market at Dawn

The market at dawn was a flurry of activity, as vendors set up their stalls and prepared for the day ahead. The air was cool and crisp, filled with the scent of fresh bread, ripe fruit, and blooming flowers. Early risers moved purposefully from stall to stall, their conversations and laughter adding to the vibrant energy. The sun began to rise, casting a warm glow over the scene and illuminating the colorful array of goods. It was a time of anticipation and promise, as the market came to life.

19. Coastal Village

The coastal village was quaint and charming, with fishing boats bobbing gently in the harbor. Their colorful hulls reflected in the clear, calm water. The air was salty and fresh, with the distant sound of seagulls and waves adding to the serene atmosphere. Narrow, cobblestone streets wound through the village, lined with charming cottages and small shops. The scent of freshly baked bread and sea air created a comforting and inviting ambiance.

20. Flower Shop

The flower shop was a burst of color and fragrance, a sanctuary of beauty. Bouquets of roses, lilies, and daisies filled the space, their petals creating a vibrant tapestry. The air was filled with the sweetscent of flowers, mingling with the earthy aroma of potting soil and greenery. Each bouquet was a work of art, carefully arranged to showcase the natural beauty of the blooms. Customers moved slowly through the shop, admiring the vibrant displays and selecting the perfect arrangements. The soft hum of conversation and the gentle rustle of leaves added to the peaceful and inviting atmosphere, making it a haven for anyone seeking a moment of beauty and tranquility.

FAQs About Descriptive Paragraphs

Q: What is a descriptive paragraph? A: A descriptive paragraph is a section of writing that uses vivid details and sensory language to create a picture in the reader's mind, engaging their senses and emotions.

Q: Why are descriptive paragraphs important? A: Descriptive paragraphs enhance the reader's experience, making the content more engaging, memorable, and impactful. They help the reader visualize the scene and connect emotionally with the content.

Q: How can I improve my descriptive writing? A: To improve your descriptive writing:

  • Focus on sensory details to engage all five senses.
  • Use figurative language like metaphors and similes.
  • Be specific and avoid vague descriptions.
  • Practice regularly and read descriptive works by skilled authors for inspiration.

Q: What are some common mistakes in descriptive writing? A: Common mistakes in descriptive writing include:

  • Being too vague or general in descriptions.
  • Overusing adjectives and not incorporating other parts of speech.
  • Neglecting to engage all the senses.
  • Failing to revise and edit for clarity and impact.

Key Takeaways

  • Descriptive paragraphs create vivid images and engage the reader's senses.
  • Use specific details, sensory language, and figurative expressions to enhance your writing.
  • Practice regularly to refine your descriptive writing skills.
  • Refer to descriptive paragraph examples for inspiration and guidance.

Mastering descriptive writing can significantly enhance your ability to connect with readers and convey your message effectively. By incorporating vivid imagery, sensory details, and precise language, you can create engaging and memorable content. Use these 20 descriptive paragraph examples as a reference to inspire your own writing. With practice and attention to detail, you'll soon find yourself crafting descriptive paragraphs that captivate and transport your readers to different worlds.

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properties of creative descriptive writing

The Art of Descriptive Writing

Concrete v abstract writing.

Descriptive writing is all about detail. The details we pick out and the way we describe them makes the difference between a story that is flat and dull, or full of life and interest. When writing a descriptive scene, remember the senses: the things we can see, hear, smell, taste and touch. Good writers are able to communicate very complex ideas simply by focussing on these concrete details, describing them with care and precision.

Abstract writing deals in general ideas, while concrete writing focuses on particular details. At an abstract level, we might talk about ‘organic life’. I’m not sure what image that conjures up for you – probably something different for each of us. I could refine that abstract idea by speaking of a ‘plant’. That narrows things down a little, but it’ still fairly abstract, How about a ‘tree’? We’re getting more concrete now, but we could go further. We could speak of an ‘oak tree’. Further still, we could identify this particular oak tree as ‘a sapling’.

Now we’re getting somewhere. We’ve gone from the very broad, abstract concept of organic life, right through to the concrete and particular example of an oak sapling. At this might start to describe our sapling in order to make it something you can clearly imagine – I could describe it as a ‘sickly specimen’ or as a ‘lithe and youthful tree’; I could describe its ‘satin skin, reptilian green’, or perhaps ‘the shy lime-green leaves unfurling at the tips of the top-most branches’ etc. Suddenly, the sapling is something we can sense – an image that is alive and present to us in a way that an abstract idea can never be.

It’s all too easy to burrow down in the abstract level when we write about complex emotions and feelings – because abstractions are safe. But for that reason they’re not very interesting, certainly not as engaging as a concrete image we can visualise and relate to.

Sometimes abstract language works well, and can even be quite beautiful – e.g. we hear it a lot in religious contexts: ‘My soul magnifies the Lord’, ‘I was overcome by the awesome love of God’, ‘In my youth I turned my back on God’, or some similar sentiment. But what does any of that mean? To someone who hasn’t had the kind of experience these statements are referring to, such abstract language can easily sound like empty words. If we don’t give our readers something concrete to engage with, they will quickly lose interest, and the powerful ideas we have in mind will fail to hit home the way we want them to.

If your writing is becoming too abstract, return to the senses to give your story some colour, some body, some life! Use a simile or a metaphor to provide the reader with a concrete image – something they can see, smell, taste, or hear –to illustrate and so make accessible the meaning you have in mind.

Show AND Tell

'...the responsibility of showing should be assumed by the energetic and specific use of language.'  Francine Prose

Writing students are often told: ‘Show, don’t tell’. Good writing helps readers to form pictures in their minds, so instead of just telling the reader that Joe was ‘really mad’, we might show this by mentioning the pulsating vein at Joe’s temple, or the way he suddenly drops out of a conversation, or starts breathing loudly through his nose, or whatever.

This doesn’t mean there’s no place in good writing for lengthy passages of what Francine Prose calls ‘flat-out authorial narration’. Where would Dickens, Austen or Melville be otherwise? But when good writers do this there’s almost always some slight-of-hand going on. On the surface it might seem the writer is simply telling us the dry facts in a straightforward fashion, but something more subtle is usually going on. The trick is to tell in such a way that a particular mood, or an idea, or a sense of character is being conveyed at the same time.

The best descriptive writing, especially where emotion is concerned, is often very subtle or indirect. Rather than describing a character’s emotional state directly, an author might allude to it by providing a description of a setting, as seen from the character’s point of view. How we feel affects what we take notice of and how we feel about it – the same goes for your characters. Check out the following contrasting descriptions of the same scene, each conveying a very different state of mind in the same character:

The details picked out in each example offer a strong clue to the character’s state of mind. Also, notice how the subtle word choice affects the feel of each description. ‘Pale’ v ‘filtered’ light, ‘shuffled’ v ‘sauntered’, the ‘ugly smear’ on the fridge door compared to the ‘new timber bench tops’. This is all about the ‘energetic and specific use of language’ Francine Prose identifies with good writing. By building your vocabulary and selecting the very best word for the job, you’ll learn to show only those details that are relevant to the story, and tell in a way that is always revealing.

Simile and Metaphor 

Both similes and metaphors present readers with an image, and so both are vitally important when it comes to descriptive writing. It’s important, though, that you understand the difference. Grammatically, similes draw a direct comparison between two things that are in some way alike, usually with the words ‘like’ or ‘as’:

‘Her life was crumbling like a sandcastle in the waves.’

‘His remaining hair, as insubstantial as fairy-floss, hung about his ears in clumps.’

Metaphors go a step further by actually identifying one thing as another:

‘An army of trees stood sentinel along the top of the ridge’.

‘The moon was a ghostly galleon tossed upon cloudy seas’ (Alfred Noyes’ The Highwayman).

Whereas similes are often used for describing superficial, observable similarities, metaphors tend to run deeper. By identifying two things that on the surface appear different, and which seem to bear no obvious likeness at all, metaphors compel us to look beyond the surface into the underlying meaning of things. The best metaphors are laden with significance, or as Orson Scott Card says, ‘Metaphors have a way of holding the most truth in the least space.’

For further ideas and inspiration, follow the the link to Mark Nichol’s 20 Great Similes from Literature .

properties of creative descriptive writing

11-Plus Descriptive Writing: The Essentials

Updated: May 12, 2023 Author: Creative Hare

The purpose of descriptive writing is to paint a vivid picture of a person, animal or event. Used effectively, it has the power to spark your reader’s imagination. 

When you start using the ‘show not tell’ technique your descriptive writing will shine. But make no mistake, this proven tool for success takes practice to get right.

Read on for more ways to transform your descriptive writing.

Typically, there are two parts of an 11+ English Exam Paper:

1. Reading Comprehension

2. composition (creative writing).

properties of creative descriptive writing

  Exam Criteria 

  • In terms of exam marks, there’s an equal weighting – normally 25 or 50 marks are awarded for each section of the paper. 
  • Parents often feel frustrated as there’s no official exam writing guidance, widely available. However, this narrative marking guidance   from The Latymer School is an extremely handy resource. 
  • The marking guidance contains criteria that feature in all high-quality writing, regardless of which school entrance exam your child is sitting. 
  • Writing is subjective. So there will always be different opinions about (formal and informal) written pieces. As examiners, teachers/tutors and parents we interpret writing through our own lens – this may change daily, too. 

Descriptive Writing (Past) Exam Questions 

The ravine is a creepy and mysterious place. Think of a different place that might be considered creepy or mysterious. Describe the setting and explain how someone might feel as they walk through.

You might consider:

  • Where this setting is
  • What it looks like
  • How it makes someone feel as they visit

Top Tip!  When questions say, ‘you might consider..’ you should definitely use their suggestions in your own writing (even if you don’t feel like it). 

Writers for children often describe really frightening teachers in their books. Invent the scariest teacher you can think of, and describe them on this page. Clue: focus on what they look like, sound like and act like.

Write an essay on a description of someone you admire. (You may choose someone you actually know, or someone you have never met. Describe them and explain why you admire them. 

Top Tips to Uplift Any Descriptive Writing

Read for success.

For some children (who are avid readers) long, detailed descriptive paragraphs are an absolute bore.  Action-packed page turners are what they prefer instead. And who can blame them? Just the word ‘classic’ seems to send a shiver down their spine. 

What sort of book are you likely to grab at the end of a busy week day? 

The Railway Children – like a healthy, organic porridge… 

An action-packed page turner – your favourite comfort food e.g packet of crisps – fast, fun and easy to consume.

The latter doesn’t demand your full concentration, but delivers an instant dopamine (feel good) hit.

A balanced reading diet acknowledges that there’s room for every sort of book. Don’t deny your child the pleasure of reading a David Walliams book when we know that reading can help us to relax and unwind – vital for success, too. 

So, how can you help your child give classics a go? Try these tips: 

properties of creative descriptive writing

1. Watch the Film…

adaptation of a classic children’s book, E.g The Secret Garden, before introducing the book. Watching a film may make the reading part more fun and engaging. 

2. Listen to an Audio Book…

chapter by chapter (alongside reading), it may be easier to digest. Your child will also benefit from listening to the correct pronunciation of tricky words – a bonus!

3. Challenge Your Child…

what they think are the benefits of reading a classic book. If they say, ‘I dunno’, try the film route as a way to break down any anti-classics barrier. 

4. Introduce…

the idea of reading a classic book when your child has the head space to take this on board, e.g a weekend or even better, the school holidays.

Why bother with the classics? What can they teach your child?

  • Classics have complex plotlines with ambitious vocabulary that were written in a different era. They demand our full concentration which challenges our (mostly short) modern day attention span.
  • The sophisticated language and slow, in-depth style and pace is excellent preparation for the 11-Plus English Comprehension Exam.

Classics can:  

  • Broaden your child’s knowledge of sophisticated vocabulary                
  • Help your child appreciate the richness of human behaviour 
  • Promote self-confidence and feelings of achievement  

5 . Let Your Child Choose…

a classic book from a wide selection e.g The Little Princess, The Wizard of Oz & Peter Pan . If they don’t like one, move on and try another, never give up because eventually you’ll get there. 

Ask Questions and Listen

Bring your child into the conversation and show them that their opinions count. E.g 

  • Why do you find long descriptions in books boring?
  • Why do writers use descriptive phrases?
  • Do you think it’s possible to write an interesting description? 
  • How do you think you could make your description interesting? Have a go and see what happens. 

Give your child the space to express their thoughts, watch them surface so they can be processed. If your child doesn’t want to engage, that’s completely normal, and probably best you leave it for the moment, until they feel ready. 

Character and Setting

  • For children who love fast-paced books, ask your child to have a go at using showing  how they or a character interacts within the setting. 
  • This is a fun way to increase your child’s willingness to slow down and write more descriptively. It will also bring out your child’s indivdual writer’s voice, which is brilliant!

Show not Tell 

This technique will supercharge your child’s descriptive paragraphs – your child will love the results of their efforts, too. 

  • Rather than tell your reader it’s a hot day, show it, e.g loose light clothing, seeking the shade of the trees, moving like a sloth, the sound of crickets rang in my ears.

Use Your Senses 

  • Wake your readers up with some sensory language. Describe how you see, smell, hear, feel and taste something –  in the way that YOU want to say it. 

Stand out with your own dashing descriptions:

  • Instead of saying, ‘I smelt the sweet smell of candy floss in the air’ 
  • Find your own way of saying it e.g ‘The sparkly sweetness made me feel giddy with delight’. It’s okay to find this a bit tricky, just experiment lots. 
  • Ask yourself, what sort of feeling do you want to whip up in your reader’s mind? 

properties of creative descriptive writing

Literary Techniques – go beyond the literal 

Most children are confident with using similes, but what about personification and metaphors? These techniques may need a little polishing but they are fun to use and will lift your child’s descriptive writing so it screams ‘AaMaZing’. 

  • Here’s an example from one of my students: ‘I was drowning in a pool of my own fears’. 
  • Don’t give up if it feels too tricky, just encourage your child to keep trying. They will get there. The example above was from a bright student who is naturally very literal in their thinking, so it took practice to improve this skill. 

Descriptive Planning Template

Need to write two or three paragraphs of descriptive writing? 

No problem – create a plan (ideas plus order)

Download my Free Descriptive Writing template 

  • A plan not only gives your writing structure. It helps children to enjoy their writing more as they’ll know where they are going. More time for expressing ideas. 
  • Remember the best plans can be flexible.
  • When your child is at the helm of their writing, they can change direction, if needed. That’s great, but a plan provides a safety net. 

Together, let’s help your child ‘own’ their descriptive writing – confident writers are happy writers. 😀

Let me know how it goes.

If your child is struggling to find the motivation to get going, I’d love to help with my one-to-one (6-session) Creative Writing Booster. Get in touch for a chat by emailing [email protected] 

properties of creative descriptive writing

Interested in exploring a creative writing class?

Let your child discover their creative voice, related articles.

properties of creative descriptive writing

11+ English Sample Papers

Here's a list of 11+ English papers, FREE for you to download.

properties of creative descriptive writing

How Matteo reaped the benefits of 11+ success

Matteo was in Year 4 and attending a small independent school in North London when we first started working together. 

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Show, Don’t Tell: Mastering the Art of Descriptive Writing

properties of creative descriptive writing

Imagine curling up with a book, eager to dive into a new world. Now, think about the difference between reading “She was sad” versus “A tear trickled down her cheek, her shoulders slumped as she gazed out the window.” It’s a subtle shift, but one of these paints a vivid picture, allowing you to feel the emotion. 

That, right there, is the magic of the “show, don’t tell” mantra every writer hears about. It’s not just a fancy rule thrown around in writing workshops—it’s the heart of storytelling, a way to invite readers inside your narrative. In a world bursting with content, descriptive writing has never been more crucial. It’s the difference between a forgettable story and one that lingers long after the last page is turned.

Understanding “Show, Don’t Tell”

“Show, don’t tell” sounds pretty self-explanatory, but let’s unpack it a bit. Essentially, it means instead of merely telling your reader that something is happening or how a character feels, you paint a picture with words. It’s about allowing readers to deduce things for themselves, through the actions, thoughts, senses, and feelings of characters, rather than directly spelling everything out for them. This approach immerses readers deeper into the story, making it a more interactive experience.

For instance, saying “The room was tense” is a direct tell. But describing how characters might avoid eye contact, how there’s a palpable silence only interrupted by the tapping of a nervous foot—that’s showing. It pulls readers into the moment, asking them to deduce the room’s atmosphere based on the cues you’ve given.

And why does this matter so much? Reader engagement. When readers are shown details, they become active participants in the story. They feel with the characters, visualize the environments, and immerse themselves in the world you’ve built. It’s like the difference between watching a movie in standard definition and 4K. Both tell the same story, but one is undeniably more vivid and memorable. By mastering the art of “showing”, writers invite their readers to not just read, but to experience the narrative.

The Power of Descriptive Writing

Descriptive writing is like the secret sauce in a bestselling novel or a blockbuster movie. It’s the reason readers feel like they’ve been transported to Hogwarts when reading Harry Potter or the desolate landscapes of Westeros in Game of Thrones. But how does it work its magic?

Firstly, descriptive writing has the potential to breathe life into scenes. Consider a setting like “a forest”. Now, contrast that with “a dense forest where sunlight barely filters through the canopy, and every step on the damp ground releases the rich, earthy aroma of decaying leaves.” Suddenly, it’s not just any forest; it’s a specific, living place that readers can visualize and almost smell.

Beyond settings, descriptions make characters leap off the page. Knowing a character is “nervous” is one thing. Watching them “twist a lock of hair around their finger, eyes darting to the exit every few minutes” makes readers feel their anxiety, creating a deeper connection.

Finally, descriptive writing morphs passive readers into active, engaged participants. Instead of just processing information, they’re feeling, visualizing, and even predicting. They’re not just reading a story; they’re living it.

Techniques to “Show” Effectively

So, we’ve established that “show, don’t tell” is a game-changer. But how do writers nail it?

  • Use Strong Verbs and Specific Nouns: Swap out generic verbs for ones that pop. Instead of “She walked,” try “She strutted” or “She shuffled”. It’s also useful to be specific. Instead of “bird”, maybe it’s a “raven” or a “sparrow”.
  • Harness the Five Senses: Descriptions shouldn’t be limited to what characters see. What do they hear? The distant howl of a wolf or the soft hum of a city at night? What do they smell? The acrid scent of smoke or the sweet aroma of blooming roses? By invoking multiple senses, writers create a multi-dimensional world.
  • Crafting Metaphors and Similes: These literary devices are gold for “showing”. Saying “He had a lion’s courage” paints a clearer picture than just calling him brave. Or consider describing sadness as “a weight, like an anchor dragging her down”. Suddenly, the emotion has depth and tangibility.

However, a word of caution: while metaphors and similes are powerful, they should be used judiciously. Overloading prose with them can make it cumbersome and reduce their impact.

Remember, the goal of descriptive writing is to immerse readers, to make them forget they’re reading at all. By incorporating these techniques, writers can transform their stories from simple narratives into vivid, unforgettable experiences.

Examples of “Telling” vs. “Showing”

Let’s dive into some examples to really understand the difference between “telling” and “showing”.

  • Showing: Her eyes darted around the dimly lit room, and she could feel her heart pounding in her chest, echoing in her ears.
  • Showing: The sun painted the sky with hues of pink and orange, and birds chirped melodiously, serenading the world awake.
  • Showing: His face turned a shade redder, his fists clenched, and every word that spewed out was laced with venom.
  • Showing: Whenever they were apart, they’d find subtle ways to stay connected, like their matching bracelets or their secret handshake.

Now, let’s decode this a bit. In each “showing” example, there’s a vivid picture or an emotion evoked. Instead of being told how a character feels or what the setting is, readers are given details that allow them to deduce it for themselves. This not only engages their imagination but also makes the reading experience more interactive and relatable.

Benefits of Descriptive Writing

So why go through the effort of “showing” rather than just “telling”? Here are some undeniable perks:

  • Enhanced Reader Immersion: Just like a virtual reality headset transports you into a game, descriptive writing pulls readers into the story. They don’t just understand what’s happening; they feel it.
  • Emotional Connection: When readers are shown a character’s vulnerabilities, dreams, or fears, they form an emotional bond. They root for them, cry for them, or even get frustrated with them. It’s no longer just a story; it’s an experience.
  • Enriching Plot and Character: Descriptive writing doesn’t just paint pretty pictures. It can foreshadow events, develop a character’s backstory, or provide insight into their mindset. For instance, a room described as “stark and cold, with pictures removed from walls” not only sets a mood but hints at a recent heartbreak or departure.
  • Clarity without Over-explaining: A common trap writers fall into is over-explaining situations or feelings. With descriptive writing, there’s a graceful clarity. Instead of stating facts or emotions plainly, they’re illustrated, allowing readers to come to conclusions organically.

In essence, descriptive writing is a tool, and like any tool, it can elevate a craft when used correctly. For writers, it’s the difference between creating a story and creating a world.

Challenges and How to Overcome Them

Every craft has its pitfalls, and descriptive writing is no exception. Here are a few challenges writers often encounter:

  • Over-Description or Purple Prose: We’ve all read that paragraph that feels more like a flowery meadow than concise storytelling. The solution? Edit ruthlessly. Ask yourself: does this description serve the story? If it doesn’t, trim it down.
  • Balancing “Showing” and Plot Movement: While “showing” enriches a narrative, it shouldn’t halt the story’s pace. Ensure descriptions serve dual purposes, such as revealing character traits or foreshadowing, so the plot continues to advance.
  • Avoiding Overly Ornate Language: Sometimes, in the bid to be descriptive, writers lose their story in a maze of fancy words. Remember, simplicity can be powerful. Ensure your language complements the narrative instead of overshadowing it.

Practice Exercises for Descriptive Writing

Ready to master the art of “show, don’t tell”? Try these exercises:

  • Object Description: Choose an everyday object. Write a paragraph describing it without naming it, allowing its features and functions to shine.
  • Emotion Without Stating It: Describe a character feeling an emotion (like sadness or excitement) without using the emotion’s name.
  • Daily Observations: Incorporate “show, don’t tell” in your daily writing routine. Spend 10 minutes describing a scene from your day, focusing on sensory details.

Final Thoughts

Descriptive writing isn’t just about painting vivid pictures; it’s about diving deeper into the essence of storytelling. By “showing”, writers gift readers an experience, making stories come alive in their minds. It’s a continuous journey, one of learning and refining.

So, to all the writers out there: stay observant. Let the world around you inspire your words. And as you transfer the richness of life onto your pages, your stories will resonate profoundly, touching readers’ hearts and souls. Embrace the art, and let your words dance vividly in every reader’s imagination.

Further Reading...

properties of creative descriptive writing

7 Exercises to Break Through Writer’s Block

properties of creative descriptive writing

Why Having a Schedule is Crucial for a Writer’s Productivity

properties of creative descriptive writing

Overcoming Procrastination: A Writer’s Guide to Getting Started

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Description in Rhetoric and Composition

Glossary of Grammatical and Rhetorical Terms

  • An Introduction to Punctuation

Examples and Observations

  • Show; Don't Tell

Selecting Details

  • Chekhov's Advice to a Young Writer

Two Types of Description: Objective and Impressionistic

  • Lincoln's Objective Self-Description
  • Rebecca Harding Davis's Impressionistic Description of a Smoky Town
  • Lillian Ross's Description of Ernest Hemingway

Description of a Handbag

  • Bill Bryson's Description of the Residents' Lounge in the Old England Hotel

Stronger Than Death

  • Ph.D., Rhetoric and English, University of Georgia
  • M.A., Modern English and American Literature, University of Leicester
  • B.A., English, State University of New York

In composition , description is a  rhetorical strategy using sensory details to portray a person, place, or thing.

Description is used in many different types of nonfiction , including essays ,  biographies , memoirs , nature writing , profiles , sports writing , and travel writing .

Description is one of the  progymnasmata  (a sequence of classical rhetorical exercises) and one of the traditional  modes of discourse . 

"A description is an arrangement of properties, qualities, and features that the author must pick (choose, select), but the art lies in the order of their release—visually, audibly, conceptually—and consequently in the order of their interaction, including the social standing of every word." (William H. Gass, "The Sentence Seeks Its Form." A Temple of Texts . Alfred A. Knopf, 2006)

Show; Don't Tell

"This is the oldest  cliché of the writing profession, and I wish I didn't have to repeat it. Do not tell me that the Thanksgiving dinner was cold. Show me the grease turning white as it congeals around the peas on your plate. . . . Think of yourself as a movie director. You have to create the scene that the viewer will relate to physically and emotionally." (David R. Williams, Sin Boldly!: Dr. Dave's Guide To Writing The College Paper . Basic Books, 2009)

"The descriptive writer's main task is the selection and verbal representation of information. You must choose the details that matter—that are important to the purposes you share with your readers—as well as a pattern of arrangement relevant to those mutual purposes. . . . " Description can be an engineer describing the terrain where an embankment must be built, a novelist describing a farm where the novel will take place, a realtor describing a house and land for sale, a journalist describing a celebrity's birthplace, or a tourist describing a rural scene to friends back home. That engineer, novelist, realtor, journalist, and tourist may all be describing the very same place. If each is truthful, their descriptions will not contradict each other. But they will certainly include and emphasize different aspects." (Richard M. Coe, Form and Substance . Wiley, 1981)

Chekhov's Advice to a Young Writer

"In my opinion, descriptions of nature should be extremely brief and offered by the way, as it were. Give up commonplaces, such as: 'the setting sun, bathing in the waves of the darkening sea, flooded with purple gold,' and so on. Or 'swallows flying over the surface of the water chirped gaily.' In descriptions of nature one should seize upon minutiae, grouping them so that when, having read the passage, you close your eyes, a picture is formed. For example, you will evoke a moonlit night by writing that on the mill dam the glass fragments of a broken bottle flashed like a bright little star and that the black shadow of a dog or wolf rolled along like a ball.'" (Anton Chekhov, quoted by Raymond Obstfeld in Novelist's Essential Guide to Crafting Scenes . Writer's Digest Books, 2000)

" Objective description attempts to report accurately the appearance of the object as a thing in itself, independent of the observer's perception of it or feelings about it. It is a factual account, the purpose of which is to inform a reader who has not been able to see with his own eyes. The writer regards himself as a kind of camera, recording and reproducing, though in words, a true picture. . . . " Impressionistic description is very different. Focusing upon the mood or feeling the object evokes in the observer rather than upon the object as it exists in itself, impressionism does not seek to inform but to arouse emotion. It attempts to make us feel more than to make us see. . . . "[T]he writer may blur or intensify the details he selects, and, by the clever use of figures of speech , he may compare them to things calculated to evoke the appropriate emotion. To impress us with the dreary ugliness of a house, he may exaggerate the drabness of its paint or metaphorically describe the flaking as leprous ." (Thomas S. Kane and Leonard J. Peters, Writing Prose: Techniques and Purposes , 6th ed. Oxford University Press, 1986)

Lincoln's Objective Self-Description

"If any personal description of me is thought desirable, it may be said, I am, in height, six feet, four inches, nearly; lean in flesh, weighing, on an average, one hundred and eighty pounds; dark complexion, with coarse black hair, and gray eyes--no other marks or brands recollected." (Abraham Lincoln, Letter to Jesse W. Fell, 1859)

Rebecca Harding Davis's Impressionistic Description of a Smoky Town

"The idiosyncrasy of this town is smoke. It rolls sullenly in slow folds from the great chimneys of the iron-foundries and settles down in black, slimy pools on the muddy streets. Smoke on the wharves, smoke on the dingy boats, on the yellow river—clinging in a coating of greasy soot to the house-front, the two faded poplars, the faces of the passers-by. The long train of mules, dragging masses of pig-iron through the narrow street, have a foul vapor hanging to their reeking sides. Here, inside, is a little-broken figure of an angel pointing upward from the mantel-shelf; but even its wings are covered with smoke, clotted and black. Smoke everywhere! A dirty canary chirps desolately in a cage beside me. Its dream of green fields and sunshine is a very old dream—almost worn out, I think." (Rebecca Harding Davis, "Life in the Iron Mills." The Atlantic Monthly , April 1861)

Lillian Ross's Description of Ernest Hemingway

​​ "Hemingway had on a red plaid wool shirt, a figured wool necktie, a tan wool sweater-vest, a brown tweed jacket tight across the back and with sleeves too short for his arms, gray flannel slacks, Argyle socks, and loafers, and he looked bearish, cordial, and constricted. His hair, which was very long in back, was gray, except at the temples, where it was white; his mustache was white, and he had a ragged half-inch, full white beard. There was a bump about the size of a walnut over his left eye. He had on steel-rimmed spectacles, with a piece of paper under the nose-piece. He was in no hurry to get to Manhattan." (Lillian Ross, "How Do You Like It Now, Gentlemen?" The New Yorker , May 13, 1950)

​"Three years ago at a flea market, I bought a small, white-beaded handbag, which I have never since carried in public but which I would never dream of giving away. The purse is small, about the size of a paperback bestseller, and thus it is totally unsuited for lugging around such paraphernalia as a wallet, comb, compact, checkbook, keys, and all the other necessities of modern life. Hundreds of tiny pearl-colored beads dot the outside of the handbag, and on the front, woven into the design, is a starburst pattern formed by larger, flat beads. Creamy white satin lines the inside of the bag and forms a small pocket on one side. Inside the ​pocket someone, perhaps the original owner, has scrawled the initials "J.W." in red lipstick. At the bottom of the purse is a silver coin, which reminds me of my teenage years when my mother warned me never to go out on a date without a dime in case I had to telephone home for help. In fact, I think that's why I like my white beaded handbag: it reminds me of the good old days when men were men and ladies were ladies." (Lorie Roth, "My Handbag")

Bill Bryson's Description of the Residents' Lounge in the Old England Hotel

"The room was casually strewn with aging colonels and their wives, sitting amid carelessly folded Daily Telegraph s. The colonels were all shortish, round men with tweedy jackets, well-slicked silvery hair, an outwardly gruff manner that concealed within a heart of flint, and, when they walked, a rakish limp. Their wives, lavishly rouged and powdered, looked as if they had just come from a coffin fitting." (Bill Bryson, Notes From a Small Island . William Morrow, 1995)

"Great description shakes us. It fills our lungs with the life of its author. Suddenly he sings within us. Someone else has seen life as we see it! And the voice that fills us, should the writer be dead, bridges the gulf between life and death. Great description is stronger than death." (Donald Newlove, Painted Paragraphs . Henry Holt, 1993)

  • How to Write a Good Descriptive Paragraph
  • Comparison in Composition
  • Amplification Definition and Examples in Rhetoric
  • The Power of Connotations: Definition and Examples
  • List (Grammar and Sentence Styles)
  • 40 Topics to Help With Descriptive Writing Assignments
  • Modes of Discourse (Composition)
  • Yeats and 'The Symbolism of Poetry'
  • What Is Composition? Definition, Types, and Examples
  • Hypallage in Grammar
  • Writing With Lists: Using the Series in Descriptions
  • How to Use Exemplification in Writing
  • What is Classification in Grammar?
  • Imitation in Rhetoric and Composition
  • Model Place Descriptions

Creative Writing Prompts

Sands of Creativity: Mastering the Art of Describing Sand in Creative Writing

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My name is Debbie, and I am passionate about developing a love for the written word and planting a seed that will grow into a powerful voice that can inspire many.

Sands of Creativity: Mastering the Art of Describing Sand in Creative Writing

Unleashing Your Imagination: The Intriguing World of Describing Sand

Capturing the essence: exploring the texture and color of different sands, painting a picture with words: crafting vivid descriptions of sand, playing with metaphors: infusing emotion and depth into sand descriptions, mastering the art of sensory detail: evoking sights, sounds, and feelings of sand, choosing the right words: enhancing descriptions through precise vocabulary, going beyond the obvious: uncovering the unique qualities of various sands, inspiring your readers: techniques to bring sand descriptions to life, frequently asked questions, concluding remarks.

Have you ever stopped to truly observe the mesmerizing qualities of sand? This omnipresent substance that effortlessly slips through our fingers is more fascinating than meets the eye. Its texture alone can transport us to a multitude of landscapes, from silky smooth shores to rough and grainy dunes. But describing sand goes far beyond its mere sensation. Join us as we embark on a journey to unravel the intriguing world of sand and let your imagination run wild .

Sand, with its infinite variety, holds a treasure trove of colors. From dazzling white beaches to golden desert expanses, it embraces shades that beckon the wanderlust within us. Each grain tells a unique story, composed of minerals, rocks, and even seashells. Imagine the soft, powder-like feel of finely ground quartz sliding through your fingers, or the coarser, uneven grit of volcanic ash-shaped particles. The diversity of sand is as astounding as the landscapes they form. Palettes of ochre, beige, caramel, or ebony awaken our senses and paint vivid pictures in our minds.

Capturing the Essence: Exploring the Texture and Color of Different Sands

Welcome to a captivating journey where we delve into the mesmerizing world of sands! Join us as we uncover the diverse range of textures and colors found in sands across the globe. From sun-kissed beaches to arid deserts, each grain has its own story to tell.

The texture of sands can vary significantly, providing a truly unique tactile experience. Fine sands, with their powdery consistency, effortlessly slip through your fingers, creating a velvety sensation. In contrast, coarse sands offer a grainier touch that exudes a sense of rawness and ruggedness. Embark on an adventure of touch, allowing your fingertips to explore the vast differences that sands have to offer.

  • Jagged Sands: Some sands display jagged edges, formed from elements like crushed shells or volcanic rocks. These rough textures not only add intrigue but also depict the turbulent history of their origin.
  • Silky Sands: As smooth as silk, these ultra-fine grains are like caressing a cloud. Often found on serene beaches, their velvety texture feels luxurious beneath your toes.
  • Glistening Sands: Certain sands shimmer like precious gems under the sunlight. Infused with tiny crystal fragments, they create a mesmerizing spectacle that sparkles and captivates all who behold their beauty.

Colors also play a significant role in the allure of sands. Some beaches boast pristine white sands, where the pureness reflects the surrounding sunlight, creating an ethereal atmosphere. Other shores embrace warm golden tones, reminiscent of endless summer days. Certain volcanic regions unveil striking black sands, drenched in mystery and history. The kaleidoscope of colors found in sands truly invites us to observe the fascinating tapestry of our planet.

Painting a Picture with Words: Crafting Vivid Descriptions of Sand

Color: The sand sparkled like golden silk under the bright rays of the sun, spreading hues of warmth and radiance. As the coastline stretched far into the distance, the sand gradually lightened to a delicate shade of beige, reminiscent of a creamy cappuccino. In some areas, where the sea gently lapped against the shore, the sand appeared damp and darker, contrasting beautifully with the dry, powdery texture surrounding it.

Texture: Running your fingers through the sand felt like sifting through thousands of tiny, velvety granules. It was as if nature had taken the softest down feathers and transformed them into a flooring of delicate particles. The sand was cool to the touch, offering a refreshing respite from the heat of the sun. With each step, the sand gently yielded beneath your weight, leaving behind little footprints and revealing its resilient nature.

Playing with Metaphors: Infusing Emotion and Depth into Sand Descriptions

When it comes to describing sand, the use of metaphors can add a whole new dimension of emotion and depth to your writing. Metaphors allow you to create vivid imagery and engage the reader’s senses, making your descriptions more captivating and memorable.

One way to infuse emotion into sand descriptions is by comparing the texture of the sand to something familiar yet evocative. For example, you could liken the softness of the sand to a baby’s skin, instantly conjuring feelings of tenderness and delicacy. Alternatively, you might compare the roughness of the sand to a warrior’s calloused hands, evoking a sense of strength and resilience. By using metaphors, you can transform a mundane description into a powerful visual experience that resonates with your readers.

  • Compare the warmth of the sand to a cozy fireplace on a winter’s night.
  • Describe the color of the sand as golden, like an ethereal sunbeam at sunset.
  • Portray the sound of the sand as a gentle whisper, reminiscent of secrets shared between loved ones.

Ultimately, the key to infusing emotion and depth into sand descriptions lies in the artful use of metaphors. By carefully selecting metaphors that resonate with your intended emotions and creating a sensory experience, you can transport your readers to the sandy shores and make your descriptions come alive.

Evoke the beauty and essence of a sandy landscape by mastering the art of sensory detail. By incorporating vivid sights, sounds, and feelings, you can transport your readers to a world of sun-kissed shores and shifting dunes.

When describing the sight of sand, imagine the golden grains glistening in the sunlight like a million tiny stars. The fine texture and undulating patterns create a mesmerizing sight, painting a picture of tranquility and endless possibility. Picture the way the sand stretches out before you, seemingly infinite, inviting you to explore and lose yourself in its soft embrace. To amplify this visual imagery, consider using descriptive adjectives like “powdery,” “radiant,” or “undulating.”

  • Sound: Close your eyes and listen closely to the soundscape of sand. As you walk, the grains gently shift under your feet, creating a soothing, rhythmic sound – a gentle dance of nature. The sound of sand blowing in the wind is a whispered melody, harmonizing with the symphony of crashing waves in the background. To convey these auditory sensations, incorporate words like “whisper,” “rustle,” or “murmur.”
  • Feelings: The sensation of sand beneath your toes is an unparalleled experience. As you sink your feet into its warmth, you can almost feel its soft caress against your skin. The playful texture lends itself to building sandcastles or creating intricate patterns with your fingertips. Let your readers feel the sensation of sand slipping through their fingers, the gentle exfoliation as it meets their skin. Use words like “gritty,” “grainy,” or “velvety” to transport your audience to the tactile wonderland of sand.

Incorporating sensory detail in your writing enables you to paint a vivid and immersive picture of the sandy landscape. By harnessing the sights, sounds, and feelings of sand, you can evoke a sensory experience that resonates with your readers, enticing them to embark on their own journeys through the mesmerizing world of sand.

The art of effective communication lies not only in the ideas we express but also in the words we choose to convey those ideas. When it comes to descriptions, the use of precise vocabulary can elevate the impact and clarity of our message. By carefully selecting the right words, we can paint a vivid picture in the minds of our readers, capturing their attention and evoking specific emotions.

First and foremost, precision in vocabulary allows us to be more specific with our descriptions. By utilizing words that are exact and concrete, we provide the reader with a clear image of what we are describing. Rather than simply stating that something is “big,” we can use words like “monstrous” or “towering,” providing a much more evocative and memorable depiction. Additionally, precise vocabulary helps us to express nuanced differences. For example, instead of describing an object as “old,” we can choose words like “antique” or “vintage” to convey a sense of history and value. These subtle word choices add depth and richness to our descriptions, making them more engaging and captivating.

  • Precision in vocabulary provides clarity and specificity in descriptions.
  • Exact and concrete words create clear mental images.
  • Evocative vocabulary helps capture the reader’s attention.
  • Subtle differences can be expressed through nuanced word choices.
  • Precise vocabulary adds depth and engages the reader.

In conclusion, choosing the right words is key to enhancing descriptions. By incorporating a precise vocabulary, we can ensure clarity, evoke emotions, and captivate our readers. So, let us dive into the vast sea of words and select those that best convey our intended meaning, creating descriptions that truly come alive in the minds of those who read them.

Going Beyond the Obvious: Uncovering the Unique Qualities of Various Sands

When it comes to sand, we often take it for granted as simply a gritty substance beneath our feet. However, delve deeper into the world of sands, and you’ll be amazed by their diverse characteristics and rich histories. From the serene beaches of the Caribbean to the mystical deserts of Africa, sands hold unique qualities that set them apart. Let’s embark on a journey to explore the hidden wonders of these fascinating granules!

1. The Singing Sands of Lovers Beach, Mexico: Have you ever heard sand sing? Well, you can experience this enchanting phenomenon at the pristine Lovers Beach in Cabo San Lucas. As you step on the sand, the friction between the tiny grains produces a gentle melody resembling the sound of a distant flute. This extraordinary occurrence is due to the silica-rich content of the sand particles. It’s truly a magical experience cherished by locals and visitors alike.

2. The Magnetic Sands of Tenerife, Spain: Prepare to be amazed by the magnetic sands of Tenerife’s Playa de las Teresitas. Unlike ordinary sand, these unique black grains are formed from volcanic materials, giving them their magnetic properties. Locals believe that the sand possesses healing powers, and visitors flock to this stunning beach to relax and indulge in its alleged therapeutic benefits. So, next time you’re in Tenerife, don’t miss the opportunity to lounge on these captivatingly magnetic sands!

When describing sandy landscapes, it is crucial to paint a vivid picture in your reader’s mind. By incorporating sensory details and using descriptive language, you can transport your audience to the breathtaking beauty of sandy shores. Here are some techniques to infuse life into your sand descriptions:

  • 1. Appeal to the senses: Engage your reader’s senses by describing the texture of the sand – is it powdery, fine, or gritty? Highlight the scent of the ocean breeze as it mingles with the salty sea air. Captivating your reader’s senses creates a more immersive experience.
  • 2. Evoke emotions: Describing the sand in a way that elicits emotions can create a deeper connection with your readers. A phrase like “the golden sand shimmered under the sun, inviting you to feel its warmth beneath your toes” sparks feelings of comfort and tranquility.
  • 3. Use vibrant comparisons: Enhance your descriptions by drawing comparisons to relatable objects. For instance, you could compare the color of the sand to “pale vanilla” or liken its texture to “sifting through a thousand crushed pearls.”

By employing these techniques, you can revitalize your descriptions of sandy landscapes and transport your readers to coastal paradises. Remember to be creative and let the sand come alive in their minds, enabling them to feel the warmth, smell the sea, and hear the gentle whisper of the waves in the distance.

Q: What is the importance of describing sand in creative writing? A: Describing sand in creative writing can add depth and realism to your storytelling. It helps create vivid imagery and transports readers to different settings, whether it’s a tropical beach or a desert landscape.

Q: How can I effectively describe sand in my writing? A: To describe sand effectively, use sensory language to engage readers’ senses. Focus on the texture, color, temperature, and even the sound of sand to make your description come alive on the page. Be specific and pay attention to small details that can enhance the overall atmosphere of your writing.

Q: What are some ways to capture the texture of sand in descriptive writing? A: To capture the texture of sand, consider its graininess, roughness, or smoothness. You can compare it to other familiar textures, such as silk, granulated sugar, or even the rough skin of a lizard. By using descriptive adjectives and similes, you can effectively convey the unique properties of sand.

Q: How does the color of sand impact descriptive writing? A: The color of sand plays a significant role in setting the scene in creative writing. Whether it is white, golden, or even black, the color of sand can evoke different emotions and moods. For example, white sand may convey a sense of purity or tranquility, while golden sand can symbolize warmth and paradise.

Q: How can I describe the temperature of sand in my writing? A: Describing the temperature of sand can help readers experience the scene more fully. You can convey warmth by mentioning the hot sand beneath one’s feet, or alternatively, describe the coolness of sand in the shade. By incorporating the temperature element, you can accentuate the overall atmosphere of your writing.

Q: Is it important to describe the sound of sand as well? A: Absolutely! Incorporating the sound of sand can make your writing even more immersive. Describe the crunching sound underfoot as someone walks on dry sand, or the gentle swishing sound of sand slipping through fingers. By including auditory details, you engage another sense and make the scene feel more realistic.

Q: How can I avoid generic descriptions when writing about sand? A: To avoid generic descriptions, focus on using unique and specific details. Instead of simply stating “the sand was white,” you could describe it as “powdery white sand, so fine that it slipped right through my fingers.” By using more descriptive language, you make the description more engaging and memorable.

Q: Are there any pitfalls to avoid when describing sand in creative writing? A: One common pitfall to avoid is overusing cliches or generic phrases. Aim to create original descriptions that paint a vivid picture in readers’ minds. Additionally, be cautious of excessive description that might slow down the pace of your writing. Strike a balance between providing enough detail to engage the reader, while keeping the story flowing smoothly.

Q: Can you provide some examples of effective descriptions of sand in creative writing? A: Certainly! Here are a few examples: 1. “The sand, warm as freshly baked bread, cushioned my every step as I strolled along the beach.” 2. “Golden grains of sand shimmered under the scorching sun, creating a radiant tapestry as far as the eye could see.” 3. “As the wind whispered through the dunes, the fine sand rose and fell like dancing tiny diamonds in a desert waltz.”

Q: Any final tips for mastering the art of describing sand in creative writing? A: Practice observing sand in real-life situations , paying attention to its various characteristics and how it interacts with the environment. This practice will help you develop a keen eye for detail, enabling you to describe sand more authentically in your writing. Remember to engage the reader’s senses and use language that is unique, specific, and evocative.

In conclusion, mastering the skill of describing sand in creative writing is a powerful tool that can take your prose to new heights.

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The Ultimate Guide to Learning Writing: Styles

Writing Styles: How to Write It All

Political speeches, travel guides, recipes, fantasy novels - all are written works created with specific, and yes, widely varied purposes. And despite the existence of an almost intimidating range of writing, we can actually classify written works in four main writing styles: expository, descriptive, persuasive, and narrative. Think of these styles as four general purposes that lead someone to write a piece - and because different pieces have different purposes, each style has its own distinct characteristics.

If you’re going to an evening gala, you will definitely not be wearing the sweats you just watched Netflix in (although you may wish you could). You make different choices based on the goal and impression you want to make - and the same goes for writing styles. These choices, however, are not mutually exclusive. As you may want to wear shoes that are both fashionable and comfortable, you can also write a piece that is both descriptive and narrative.

In this guide, you will learn:

  • The characteristics of the four main writing styles: expository, descriptive, persuasive, narrative
  • When to use each writing style
  • How to write in each writing style

Types of Writing: Purpose Equals Connection

How can learning how to apply different writing styles help you as a writer?

Everyone has preferred ways of writing, and some writing styles may come more naturally than others. Perhaps you only write narrative short stories and poetry. Or you may write grant proposals and the occasional op-ed. However, many written pieces have various purposes, and can therefore be enriched by blending or moving in and out of writing styles. Think of this like the art of creating fusion cuisines - you can blend flavors to appeal to your readers’ diverse palates. Learning how to weave different styles into your writing will not only improve and stretch your skills as a writer, but will also allow you to make a stronger connection with your audience.

properties of creative descriptive writing

1) Expository Writing

Expository writing is ubiquitous - its goal is to inform readers by explaining or describing. It will often provide insight or instruction with regard to a particular topic, answering questions such as “Why?”, “How?”, and “What?” Common types of expository writing include news stories and magazine articles (excluding editorials), nonfiction books, guides and how-to articles, self help writing, recipes and cookbooks, textbooks and educational resources, and business, technical, and scientific writing

One key thing to note is that expository writing can often be confused with persuasive writing. While some texts can include multiple writing styles, an expository piece cannot be persuasive, and vice versa. You should write in this style if your main goal is to solely inform your reader about a specific topic without voicing opinion. Connotations of language are crucial here - when writing in an expository style, take care to use language that carries a neutral connotation.

A How-To: Key Characteristics of Expository Writing

  • Be concise and clear (especially if giving directions)
  • Organize your information in a logical order or sequence - start with an outline if helpful
  • Use transitions
  • Highlight information with quotes, illustrations, informative graphics
  • Incorporate supporting material and evidence
  • Use research and cite sources, link to additional resources and websites if writing online
  • Avoid using language that has a positive or negative connotation - don’t insert your opinion or attempt to persuade your audience to think, feel, or do something based on your beliefs

What does expository writing look like?

See articles marked “ News Analysis ” in The New York Times as exemplary examples of expository writing. These pieces examine important and often controversial news events, and also help the reader understand possible causes and consequences of situations without reflecting the author’s opinion.

2) Descriptive Writing

“Paint a picture with your words.” This is the classic metaphor associated with descriptive writing, especially in fiction novels, yet this style is used in many other types of written works as well. You should write in this style if your goal is to bring your reader into the written work as if they were experiencing it first hand. It is pulling your audience in, providing details about a character, the setting, or situation in a manner that helps readers imagine and understand the piece. You are essentially transporting the reader to the world of your work through description.

Descriptive writing can often seem poetic in nature, depending on the language used. Most fictional pieces fall under this writing style, yet we can also find this style in some nonfiction pieces, such as memoirs and creative nonfiction, like first-hand accounts of events and travel guides. Poetry and prose, travel diaries, writing about nature, personal journals, musical lyrics, and fictional novels and plays are all common types of descriptive writing.

If writing in different styles is culinary fusion, descriptive writing is the salt - the most flexible seasoning that can be applied to almost any written piece. While cookbooks are expository texts, we often find descriptive writing in the paragraphs describing the dish at the start of a recipe. Likewise, a persuasive text may employ descriptive writing in select parts in order to draw the reader in - an immersed reader is more likely to be convinced of the author’s opinion. Descriptive writing pairs especially well with narrative writing, as communicating a story is most effective with language that places the reader right there.

A How-To: Key Characteristics of Descriptive Writing

  • Have a reason for the description before you start. Bring attention to select details and only highlight those that aid in telling the story
  • Use the six senses: sight, touch, taste, smell, sound, and feeling. Try writing about the same character or situation while highlighting different senses. Play around to see which descriptions give the reader the impression or feeling you want to impart
  • Use literary devices like metaphors, similes, imagery, and personification
  • Show, don’t tell: rather than telling your reader about something in passive language, activate your writing with adjectives, adverbs, and verbs that show what you want to say. Rather than describing your character as exhausted, describe their eyes, their breath, their voice, their posture, their movements - what about them shows they are exhausted?

What does descriptive writing look like?

In Hard Times, Charles Dickens describes the self-centered Mr. Bounderby. Notice the details Dickens opts to highlight to create the character’s impression and the senses he activates:

‘He was a rich man: banker, merchant, manufacturer, and what not. A big, loud man, with a stare, and a metallic laugh. A man made out of coarse material, which seemed to have been stretched to make so much of him… A man who was always proclaiming, through that brassy speaking-trumpet of a voice of his, his old ignorance and his old poverty. A man who was the Bully of humility.’

3) Persuasive Writing

As writers, we often first encounter persuasive writing in the form of a five paragraph argumentative essay in grade school. This writing style is far more nuanced, however, though the underlying goal is the same. Put simply, the goal of persuasive writing is exactly as it sounds - to persuade, to influence the reader into believing or doing something. This style is appropriate if you are taking a stand on a position or belief and your goal is to convince others to agree with you. In opposition to expository writing, your opinions and bias as an author are acceptable. Sometimes your intent may even be a call to action.

Persuasive writing can be found in written pieces including editorial or opinion pieces in newspapers and magazines, letters written to request an action or file a complaint, advertisements and propaganda, business proposals, political speeches, marketing pitches, cover letters, letters of recommendation, academic essays, and reviews of books, music, films, and restaurants. What makes persuasive writing unique is its intersection with psychology - as its goal is to trigger a desired response, as the author, you must know your audience.

A How-To: Key Characteristics of Persuasive Writing

  • Have a clear purpose Keep in mind the action you want the reader to take. Sometimes that action is tangible, and other times it is simply forming an opinion or changing one’s mind.
  • Build a case Present the current situation and facts and articulate the need for change - what are the consequences if the situation continues unchecked? Outline a plan for change (or options if they exist) and call the reader to action if appropriate.
  • Appeal to emotion Showing empathy with your readers begins to establish trust and relatability - this connection will make your readers more inclined to listen to you. Know your audience and what matters to them.
  • Appeal to reason Present your argument with facts, data, and other analytical information in a logical manner that makes it irrefutable and reasonable.
  • Capitalize on social proof This is the psychological phenomenon in which people assume the actions of others to reflect “correct” behavior. In persuasive writing, this may emerge in the form of testimonials from strangers or people with authority, influencer recommendations, and polls - all which lend credibility to your argument.
  • Make comparisons Relate your scenario or situation to something your reader already knows and accepts as true. Use metaphors, similes, and analogies.
  • Anticipate and respond to objections/counter-arguments If you leave holes, your audience will fill them with doubts. Anticipate counter-arguments and address them immediately so you won’t appear on the defensive.
  • Ask rhetorical questions These aren’t meant to be answered, however they draw attention and invite your reader to continue reading.
  • Use repetition Make your point in several different ways. By presenting information in repeating (not mundane) patterns, your audience is more likely to remember your message.
  • Tell stories Stories help you to build and strengthen an emotional connection with your reader. They also generate interest and are most effective when your reader may not know much about the topic at hand. Here we can find an intersection with descriptive and narrative writing.

What does persuasive writing look like?

Ralph Waldo Emerson’s seminal essay Self-Reliance and Paul Graham’s How To Do What You Love were written centuries apart, and demonstrate how texts can vary stylistically yet focus on the same goal: to persuade. Both authors pepper their writing with rhetorical questions that push the reader to challenge basic assumptions. In Self-Reliance, Emerson outlines what it means to be self-made and promotes self-reliance as an ideal. Graham, in more colloquial language, challenges readers to redefine their understanding of what “work” should be.

4) Narrative Writing

Are you telling a story? Specifically, does your story include a plot, setting, characters, conflict, and a resolution? If so, you are likely writing in the narrative style. Most fiction novels are written in this style and also employ descriptive writing. The biggest difference between purely descriptive versus narrative writing is that the former simply describes, rather than narrate a sequence of events. Aside from fiction novels, memoirs and biographies, screenplays, epic poems, sagas, myths, legends, fables, historical accounts, personal essays recounting experiences, short stories, novellas, anecdotes and oral histories are all examples of narrative writing.

A How-To: Key Characteristics of Narrative Writing

  • Outline the plot of your story. What is the resolution?
  • Include detailed descriptions of your characters and scenes - use concrete and descriptive language that gives readers a specific image to visualize and relate to
  • Give your audience insight into characters’ inner thoughts and behind-the-scenes information
  • Answer the “6 Ws” - who, what, when, where, why, and how - in your piece
  • Consider point of view: your story will change depending on the point of view you choose to tell it from. Whose point of view is the most interesting? Help your reader situate themself in your story by telling it from a defined point of view.
  • Use dynamic dialogue. Keep it short and believable, rather than having characters explain a situation. Use dialogue to show, rather than tell.
  • Know what to tell and what to omit. Leave some elements of the story to your reader’s imagination - this is what keeps them wanting more.

What does narrative writing look like?

See David Foster Wallace’s classic narrative essay Ticket to the Fair , a formidable example of storytelling woven with ample reflection on the Midwest experience and his own identity.

Writing Styles: What are the next steps?

Digging deeper into writing styles - be it your preferred style, the one you work in, or one you rarely write in - can lead to creative surprises and produce more complex pieces that speak to your reader in nuanced ways. As much as it can be a pursuit of passion, writing is also a practice, and writing in different styles can allow you to flex your full range of mental muscle. For example, you may try writing a persuasive essay and descriptive essay on the same topic. Or a poem may become a journal entry or short story. If you’re looking for inspiration, the Writing Prompts guide is an apt starting point.

Try on different styles outside of your comfort zone - experimentation can yield your best work.

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Descriptive Essay

Descriptive Essay Writing

Last updated on: Feb 9, 2023

How To Write An Impactful Descriptive Essay?

By: Cathy A.

12 min read

Reviewed By: Melisa C.

Published on: Dec 17, 2019

Descriptive Essay

Wondering how to write an impressive descriptive essay? Writing a descriptive essay is both fun and challenging. You need to describe the main topic in detail and by engaging the five senses of the readers.

Students usually get this type of essay in high school and college. Writing a descriptive essay is different from other essays.

You need to focus on describing a certain person, place, or event.

Luckily for you, the following blog post will provide some helpful tips on how to create an engaging essay.

Continue reading to learn how to write an A-worthy descriptive essay.

Descriptive Essay

On this Page

What is a Descriptive Essay?

A descriptive essay is a detailed paper that describes a place, person, situation, object, or emotion. Different people have different points of view and your job is to explain yours in detail.

You may be asked to write a descriptive essay about the beach or forest or about a person or situation. The purpose of this essay is to test the writer’s ability in expressing and explaining their experiences.

Descriptive writing should create a picture in the reader’s mind. You may be required to write a descriptive essay as a high school or college essay assignment.

For a compelling essay, using adjectives and adverbs, details, and figurative language is fundamental. Without proper usage of words, you will not be able to invoke the readers' emotions.

What is the Purpose of a Descriptive Essay?

The purpose of a descriptive essay is to describe a person, place, or personal experience in vivid detail so that the reader can create a picture in his mind.

The descriptive essay is written to get the reader to understand by using descriptive language. It is different from narrative essays, where the writer tells the story about someone else. Usually, it starts with a real-life event and then the content follows the author's imagination.

Descriptive essays are not intended to persuade the reader or show facts and figures to prove something. Descriptive essays are like word paintings that contain personal and descriptive details and these are mostly assigned to students of creative writing.

How to Start a Descriptive Essay

A strong start for your descriptive essay is essential. Analyze your topic from every angle and document the following details:

Analyze the main subjects in detail and observe minute things.

  • Start with observing all the possible aspects of the subject.
  • Don't just observe the object but also its surroundings.
  • Focus on details and features of the subject and develop opinions about them.
  • Be thoughtful; this first step will be the basis for the essay.

Physical Settings

Describing the physical settings is a must in a descriptive essay. When describing, keep the following points in mind.

  • Focus on the subject's position and observe nearby objects
  • Note the time of day and kind of lighting: natural or imitated
  • Physical settings: all the basic and decorative elements
  • The position and shape of the objects
  • Alignment and any other observable information

Physical Features

When describing the physical features of the subject, living or nonliving, consider the following points.

  • Living or nonliving; describe the features in detail
  • The subject's skin color, texture, smoothness, expression, and age
  • The features of inanimate objects in the picture, color, surface, and texture

Create Drama

Storytelling and drama are the life and blood of a good descriptive essay. It turns your essay into an exciting and interesting piece of writing. However, be subtle about adding drama to your sentence structure and add it to complement your story only.

Focus On Your Feelings

Focus on how you feel about the particular topic or person and stick to it. It is easy to get involved when working on the essay. But, focus on your own feelings and write an essay based on them.

Use Of Specific Vocabulary

Vocabulary is important. Select the best words for describing an action or object. Don't always use the first word that comes to mind.

Write slowly and thoughtfully, and use specific words to convey your thoughts.

Psychological Aspects

Writing about a certain situation or behavior of a person focuses on the mental aspects and emotions involved in them.

For Example, describe your emotions when your friend misplaced your notes right before the exam.

You may have had several emotions in that incident. Maybe you were prepared for exams, but this situation put you under pressure and made you feel frustrated and hurt.

Explore those emotions and describe the feelings they aroused. Describe the body language also, if relevant.

Ask Yourself, WHY?

This is the most valuable tip for students. When you are looking at a particular subject, and having difficulty analyzing its aspects, ask yourself "WHY".

  • Why is the subject the way it is?
  • Why does the person you are describing have such a deep-set and cold eyes?
  • Why is the animal so wounded and terrified?
  • Why is this particular place famous?

It is a good practice and after some time you will do it naturally. Knowing the why is important if you want to describe your topic properly.

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How To Write A Descriptive Essay?

When you write a descriptive essay, you help your readers visualize an event, a person, or a story. It is written to make your readers feel what you feel about the respective subject.

A descriptive essay seeks to appeal to some or all of the audience’s five senses. Some key things to consider are:

  • Discussing your subject thoroughly
  • Focusing on details and adding them in your essay
  • Sharing your personal feelings and experience about the subject
  • Observing and describing all sensory details of your subject

Here are the steps to write a descriptive essay easily.

1- Choose an Engaging and Focused Essay Topic

An important step that all strong descriptive essays share is having a focused topic. Before you make the outline, identify the purpose of your essay and use it to create an appropriate thesis statement.This type of paper does not require much personal opinion from you. Its main goal should be focusing on information that will make a dominant impression in readers' minds instead.

2- Research and Gather Important Details

When writing a descriptive essay, it is important to make sure you include as many details and sensory information as possible. This helps your reader fully understand the images that are being presented in their mind's eye.You can organize these ideas into categories so they're easy for you to access when needed.

3- Create an Outline of Your Essay

Your essays must be organized by having subheadings that are clear and concise. Group your main points into individual body paragraphs, each of which should only cover one idea or topic at a time.

4- Write your Essay’s Introduction

A good introductory paragraph is much like a road map because it provides direction to your readers.

It provides relevant background information before diving into more specific details related to how something works or why something happens. These could include statistics or stories from real-life scenarios.

5- Write the Main Body Section of Your Essay

Each body paragraph should start with a topic sentence that keeps the reader hooked on what you are saying. Use specific details instead of making generalized statements, and make sure to give examples if necessary.

6- End with a Strong Conclusion

The conclusion of an essay is the final paragraph, and it should summarize all that you have said throughout. It's a good idea to restate the main points and key details from the essay in this section.

It is important so the reader has everything they need for better understanding before ending off on something new.

If necessary be sure not to introduce anything odd or unusual, to avoid any confusion.

7- Proofread and Revise the Essay Carefully

Once you are done writing the essay, proofread and revise it carefully. Make sure that it is free from all kinds of errors.

Descriptive Essay Outline

Like all the other essays, a descriptive essay also follows the usual 5-paragraph essay structure and format.Before starting, it is important to create an outline. Following are the fundamental elements of your descriptive essay outline:

Descriptive Essay Introduction

The introduction sets the footing for the entire essay. Before heading towards the body section, the reader will come across the introduction.

It is the first impression of your work. It is very important to write an engaging introduction so that the readers read the essay till the end.

Start the essay in an easy-to-understand way and language. Provide background information on your topic so they can understand it and its importance.

To make sure the reader feels your emotions and decides to continue reading further, incorporate the following points in your introduction.

The following tips will guide you on how to write a good introduction for a descriptive essay.

  • Attract the reader's attention with an interesting fact, phrase, or quote
  • Don't bombard them with information
  • Go straight to the main pointsInclude enough information to introduce the topic and its significance.
  • Summarize the argument and the main topic and craft your thesis statement

Descriptive Essay Thesis Statement

A thesis statement is an integral part of your essay. It focuses on the argument and the writer’s main idea, which is to be discussed in the essay.

This statement also provides the writer with a chance of explaining the purpose and scope of the topic. It is intriguing and engaging.

A thesis statement is written at the end of the introduction, it is mainly a single sentence that describes the essay objective. The thesis statement should act as a guide to the reader on what to expect in the essay body. It is like a table of contents of a book, to the reader on contents you will get an idea of what the book is all about so you get to understand it better.

It is like a table of contents of a book. By reading it, you will get an idea of what the book is all about.

A good thesis should contain the following things:

  • Define the essay scope - it should narrow down all the points to clarify its purpose.
  • Avoid using common words - you should be creative with your choice of words.
  • Create suspense - it should attract the reader to the body paragraphs of the essay.

For further information on how to write a thesis for a descriptive essay, check out the following examples.

  • Descriptive essay example about a Place

“Even though monarchy is long gone, Buckingham Palace is here to remind us of the aesthetic beauty of that era.”

  • Descriptive essay example about a Person

“One of the characteristics of Spider-Man is his youthfulness, and the fact that he talks to himself more than Hamlet.”

  • Descriptive essay example about an Emotion

“For numerous reasons, the dark forest is my greatest fear, though not a fear which is necessarily smart to face.”

Descriptive Essay Body Paragraphs

Body paragraphs of the essay come next after the introduction and thesis statement. It is the main part that continues your essay.

Usually, an essay consists of three body paragraphs but you can add more if needed.

Don't add more than one central idea in one paragraph. Fusing different ideas will confuse the reader.

Build your paragraphs according to the thesis and introduction.

  • Start each body paragraph with the main sentence
  • Use transitions to move between paragraphs smoothly
  • Each paragraph should be five to six sentences long

Descriptive Essay Conclusion

The concluding paragraph is the last part of an essay, and probably your last chance to impress your reader.

The last part that the reader can keep in mind is the conclusion, which is as important as the rest of the essay.

To make it interesting and thought-provoking, include the following points:

  • Restate the thesis statement
  • Summarize the main points
  • Add an intriguing closing statement

After writing the conclusion, make a review of your essay, identify the mistakes and maintain a good tone throughout the essay.

Descriptive Essay Format Sample

Here is the descriptive essay format to help you understand how you can write a winning descriptive essay.


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Descriptive Essay Topics Ideas

Descriptive essay topics are often related to physical settings, locations, living beings, and objects.

Make sure that your essay includes the five senses, touch, taste, smell, sight, hearing, or at least one of them. It depends on the topic and the kind of feeling that you want to arouse.

Below are some descriptive essay ideas and ways to achieve them.

Living Beings

When you want to write about a person like a family member, consider the following elements:

  • Gender, age, complexion, and expressions
  • Physical features
  • Height, body type, and approximate weight
  • Kind of clothes

These details will add depth to the description and your readers will actually see your narrative.

When animals are the subject, you can add the above points plus the following details:

  • Species and animal
  • Size, weight, color
  • Behavior patterns
  • Temperament
  • Trained or wild?
  • Real or fictional?

Inanimate Subjects

Geographic locations and structures.

When your subject is a place or a building, add the following points:

  • Research about the place and its historical background
  • The color and the building's type
  • A famous place or landmark to draw a comparison and inspire interest

Human behavior and psychology is a compelling descriptive essay subject. When writing about it:

  • Describe the consequences of a particular behavior
  • Discuss the emotional dimension of the topic and how you perceive it personally

Event Or Travel Experience

A travel experience makes a good descriptive essay since you have experienced the event first hand.

Give a detailed description of the place, people at the venue, and the atmosphere of the location.

Idea, Concept, or Occupation

When writing on such topics, focus on how an idea or concept affects society and its different aspects.

Example Descriptive Essay Topics for Students

Choosing a topic for your descriptive essay is quite interesting. You get to choose something that you have an emotional connection with.

When writing a descriptive essay about a person or place, adding their personal traits will be helpful.

Some examples of descriptive essay topics include:

  • Compose a detailed descriptive essay about your best friend.
  • Describe a fancy place that you have created.
  • Describe your dream vacation destination.
  • Describe your favorite mall or store.
  • Describe your childhood home.
  • Descriptive essay about nature.
  • Descriptive essay about a place you visited.
  • Describe the personality of your Maths teacher.
  • Discuss the main characters of your favorite movie.
  • Descriptive essay about chocolate.
  • Write an essay using unique Words to describe yourself.
  • What makes me unique?
  • My first love.

Descriptive Essay Examples

Study these descriptive essay examples and sample papers to understand the main idea, structure, and purpose of descriptive essays.



To help you understand how to write a great descriptive essay, we have a whole blog post dedicated to it. We know that talking about something is one thing and demonstrating it is completely different.

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5StarEssays.com academic writing professionals are ready to help you. They read the essay details before writing and make sure that they incorporate all the details in it.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What are the features of a descriptive essay.

A descriptive essay provides a perfect opportunity for writers to express their feelings on any subject. Descriptive writing has rich sensory details which appeal to all of your senses.

How do you start a descriptive essay introduction?

The introduction to the descriptive essay should set the scene and introduce the main topic. You can use these sensory details to get a sense of what the essay is all about.

What are the two types of descriptive essays?

There are two types of descriptive essays. The first type deals with people, and the second one is about objects.

What are the elements of a descriptive essay?

Here are the key elements of a descriptive essay.

  • Sensory details
  • Figurative language
  • Central and main theme
  • Precise and clear language
  • Proper organization of ideas

What makes good descriptive writing?

Good and effective descriptive writing consists of vivid sensory details that appeal to all senses including the sense of sight, smell, touch, hearing, and taste. Moreover, these essays also explain people’s feelings in writing.

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Finance Essay, Literature

Cathy has been been working as an author on our platform for over five years now. She has a Masters degree in mass communication and is well-versed in the art of writing. Cathy is a professional who takes her work seriously and is widely appreciated by clients for her excellent writing skills.

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Creative and descriptive writing

Resources for KS3, KS4 and upper secondary

Let your students’ creativity run wild with our selection of worksheets, lessons, exam questions and revision activities, designed to embed language techniques and improve crafted writing.

Lessons and activities

Creative and descriptive writing is a great opportunity for students to explore different themes, audiences and purposes as well as demonstrate their understanding of how structure and punctuation can be used to impact a reader. From creative writing prompts to technique booklets and descriptive writing planning mats, we have drawn together a small collection of resources you can use to help with your planning of this unit.

Descriptive  / Creative Writing

Descriptive / Creative Writing

Manipulating structure and punctuation for creative writing

Manipulating structure and punctuation for creative writing

Descriptive Writing Task

Descriptive Writing Task

AQA Paper 1 Question 5 Descriptive Writing

AQA Paper 1 Question 5 Descriptive Writing

Crafting creative writing - AQA English Language Paper 1, Question 5

Crafting creative writing - AQA English Language Paper 1, Question 5

Creative/ Descriptive Writing Placemat: Image Prompt: Structure Strips

Creative/ Descriptive Writing Placemat: Image Prompt: Structure Strips

Structuring and Organising Creative Writing

Structuring and Organising Creative Writing

Descriptive Writing

Descriptive Writing

Gothic Horror Creative Writing Lesson

Gothic Horror Creative Writing Lesson

24 creative writing prompts

24 creative writing prompts

Places - Creative & Descriptive Writing - English Language GCSE

Places - Creative & Descriptive Writing - English Language GCSE

FREE LESSON creative writing AQA Language Paper 1 Question 5

FREE LESSON creative writing AQA Language Paper 1 Question 5

Descriptive writing booklet

Descriptive writing booklet

Key learning and revision.

To help your students practise crafting their creative pieces, we have pulled together a selection of resources from structure strips to exam questions to support your students when tackling such a large part of the English language exam.

AQA English Language Paper 1: Question 5 Examples

AQA English Language Paper 1: Question 5 Examples

English Language Paper One Question Five Revision & Exam Practice Questions

English Language Paper One Question Five Revision & Exam Practice Questions

Descriptive writing structure strips

Descriptive writing structure strips

AQA Language Paper 1, Question 5: Creative Writing Booklet

AQA Language Paper 1, Question 5: Creative Writing Booklet

Paper 1 Question 5 learning journey

Paper 1 Question 5 learning journey

Language Paper 1: Question 5 Creative Writing

Language Paper 1: Question 5 Creative Writing

Planning a Descriptive Response to AQA English Paper 1, Question 5

Planning a Descriptive Response to AQA English Paper 1, Question 5

Drop, Shift, Zoom, Leave Examples for Paper 1 Question 5

Drop, Shift, Zoom, Leave Examples for Paper 1 Question 5

Gcse/igcse revision resources.

Support your students in the run-up to May with this bumper collection of GCSE revision and IGCSE revision resources.

Teacher essentials

Explore this collection of essential resources including starter and plenary activities, templates, marking and feedback tools and more.

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Transform Your Writing With This Epic List of Descriptive Words

Words are powerful tools that we use to communicate and describe the world around us. Verbs and adjectives are particularly useful in this regard, as they allow us to convey action and describe qualities and characteristics.

In this article, we’ll explore a diverse range of descriptive verbs and adjectives that can be used to enhance writing and better communicate thoughts and ideas. Whether you are a writer looking to expand your vocabulary or simply want to add more descriptive language to your everyday conversations, this list is sure to provide you with plenty of inspiration!

Common Descriptive Adjectives and Different Ways to Say Them

Table of Contents

  • Captivating
  • Irresistible
  • Unattractive
  • Unappealing
  • Microscopic
  • Small-scale
  • Teensy-weensy
  • Full-figured
  • Lacking strength
  • Feeble-minded
  • Incapacitated
  • Adventurous
  • Self-assured
  • Strong-willed
  • Unflinching
  • Unfaltering
  • Apprehensive
  • Unconfident
  • Intelligent
  • Quick-witted
  • Enlightened
  • Knowledgeable
  • Intellectual
  • Inexperienced
  • Unsophisticated
  • Unenlightened
  • Unintelligent
  • Simple-minded
  • Discontented
  • Heartbroken
  • Grief-stricken
  • Exasperated
  • Enthusiastic
  • Exhilarated
  • Invigorated
  • Uninterested
  • Disinterested
  • Indifferent
  • Unmotivated
  • Disoriented
  • Discombobulated
  • Misunderstood
  • Flabbergasted
  • Taken aback
  • Dumbfounded
  • Thunderstruck
  • Distasteful
  • Unpalatable
  • Unwholesome
  • Contemptible
  • Entertained
  • Disappointed
  • Inconvenienced

Common Descriptive Verbs and Different Ways to Say Them

  • Take pleasure in
  • Participate in
  • Investigate

Describing the World Through Language

Great writing doesn’t just state what happens, it shows it, it paints it, it describes a world in your readers mind that they step into. The list above can certainly help you on your way to improving your descriptive language, but there are a few other tips to help you achieve this lofty goal!

  • Use descriptive language to paint a vivid picture in the reader’s mind. This can help to transport the reader into the world you are describing and make the experience more immersive.
  • Vary your language and try to use a range of different descriptive words and phrases. It keeps your writing fresh and engaging and prevents it from becoming repetitive or monotonous.
  • Use specific and concrete language rather than general or abstract terms. This can help to make your descriptions more grounded and believable.
  • Pay attention to the connotations of the words you use, as these can greatly impact the overall tone and atmosphere of your writing.
  • Use descriptive language to show, not tell. Rather than simply telling the reader how a character or setting looks, use descriptive language to help the reader visualize it for themselves.

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  1. This is a 3-page explanation that helps the students understand the

    properties of creative descriptive writing

  2. Descriptive Writing

    properties of creative descriptive writing

  3. What Is a Descriptive Essay? Examples and Guide

    properties of creative descriptive writing

  4. Descriptive / Creative Writing

    properties of creative descriptive writing

  5. PPT

    properties of creative descriptive writing

  6. Descriptive / Creative Writing Practice

    properties of creative descriptive writing


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    By using descriptive adjectives and similes, you can effectively convey the unique properties of sand. Q: How does the color of sand impact descriptive writing? A: The color of sand plays a significant role in setting the scene in creative writing. Whether it is white, golden, or even black, the color of sand can evoke different emotions and moods.

  17. The Art of Descriptive Writing: Purpose, Techniques, Types, and Tips

    The Art of Descriptive Writing: Descriptive writing is a powerful form of expression that allows writers to paint vivid pictures with words, capturing the essence of a scene, person, or experience. It serves multiple purposes, from building a strong writing structure to enhancing vocabulary and sharpening descriptive skills.

  18. How To Write Descriptions And Create A Sense Of Place

    Set the scene early on - then nudge. It may sound obvious but plenty of writers launch out into a scene without giving us any descriptive material to place and anchor the action. Sure, a page or so into the scene, they may start to add details to it - but by that point it's too late. They've already lost the reader.

  19. PDF Teen Writer! Video: "Descriptive Writing & the Five Senses

    See examples of creative writing that refers to sensory details and hear what published authors have to say about exploring the 5 senses in creative writing. Literary Terms - Imagery Learn about imagery to create vivid images in the mind of your reader, and see examples of many different kind of imagery you can use in your creative writing.

  20. The Ultimate Writing Guide: Writing Styles

    As you may want to wear shoes that are both fashionable and comfortable, you can also write a piece that is both descriptive and narrative. In this guide, you will learn: The characteristics of the four main writing styles: expository, descriptive, persuasive, narrative. When to use each writing style. How to write in each writing style.

  21. Descriptive Essay

    When writing a descriptive essay about a person or place, adding their personal traits will be helpful. Some examples of descriptive essay topics include: Compose a detailed descriptive essay about your best friend. Describe a fancy place that you have created. Describe your dream vacation destination.

  22. Creative and descriptive writing

    Lessons and activities. Creative and descriptive writing is a great opportunity for students to explore different themes, audiences and purposes as well as demonstrate their understanding of how structure and punctuation can be used to impact a reader. From creative writing prompts to technique booklets and descriptive writing planning mats, we ...

  23. Transform Your Writing With This Epic List of Descriptive Words

    Pay attention to the connotations of the words you use, as these can greatly impact the overall tone and atmosphere of your writing. Use descriptive language to show, not tell. Rather than simply telling the reader how a character or setting looks, use descriptive language to help the reader visualize it for themselves. Good luck!