Descriptive writing is a style of writing that focuses on describing a character, an event or a place in such a way that a picture is formed in the reader’s mind. It is common through every genre, and can be incorporated into every piece of writing in some form. Most writers find it easier to describe things that the character can actually see, so it occurs most often as first person narrative. It is sometimes poetic in nature, with the author specifying details rather than just providing information of that event.
Capturing an event through descriptive writing involves using words that engage as many of the five senses as possible. Do not just say:
The vampire killed his lover.
Change the sentence and add on more details:
The bloody, red-eyed vampire sank his rust-coloured teeth into the soft skin of his lover and ended her life.
Here are some examples of descriptive writing techniques that you can effectively apply to your own writing.
- Identify your focus: When you first to begin to write, it is extremely important to decide what your topic is going to be. This will prevent you from losing focus on the theme or main idea of your writing. When you decide what you are going to write about, you can then begin to add details about the specific event, object, or person.
- Use of words: Your word choices help the reader to create mental images. Use adjectives to make your writing more detailed.
For example, rather than saying: The dog sniffs around.
Say: The big, brown dog sniffed around the red rose bushes in the front yard.
The use of ‘big,’ ‘brown,’ ‘red rose bushes’, and ‘front yard’ assists the reader in visualizing the whole event.
By using words associated with taste, smell, hearing, sight, or touch, you create opportunities for the reader to develop an emotional connection to your writing.
- Re-read and redo: Re-reading what you write is an important step in the descriptive writing process. This gives you time to review, and determine whether you need to add more details to what you have written.
Be objective. Put yourself in the readers’ position and ask, ‘Would I be able to understand the main topic of my writing if I had no prior exposure?’
Always remember, good descriptive writing is done well when any reader can understand the main topic of your writing.