Saturday, September 4, 2010

Writing Tip - Description

Description is used for a nymber of reasons. Using the senses makes the descriptions vivid and engages the reader's interest. Being sight oriented many writers forget there are other senses such as smell, touch, sound and taste. Using a full range of senses can make a character, a setting or an object come to light.

She ran her hand over the cool metal of the gun. The wind wove an eerie melody through the broken shutters. His meaty hands , roughened by weather raised gooseflesh.

Description can be used to show action and to move a character through a scene. The thud on the stairs matched the beat of her heart. She fled into the darkness. Branches like fingers tried to hold her back. How far to the road.

The key to using the senses in descriptions is to be precise, brief and imaginative. Long strings of adjectives can muddy the prose. Choosing three or four when one can do the job makes the reader stop and ponder which one they like.

Remember good description comes in the revision phase of the story. Getting the basics down and then you can decide how and where to use description. Verbs and nouns have the most powerful effects in description, adjectives come next and adverbs last.


Yolanda said...

Great reminder that we should try to incorporate all the senses! And yes, if you have nothing on the page, you can't revise.

Taryn Kincaid said...


(my favorite critique word!)

Liz said...

Nice example.