How to Captivate Readers with Descriptive Writing that Rocks
You may think of descriptive writing as the flowery descriptive stuff that you skip over when reading a
novel, although many an author and reader enjoy that type of writing too. But the descriptive writing
that we are talking about here is the kind that makes a reader “feel” the story, as if they were part of a
scene or knew someone just like the one described in a scene or narrative.
Good description is not an easy thing to accomplish in writing, but if you want to have a story that
readers can’t put down because they lost themselves in it and didn’t find their way out until they’d
finished it, you’ll find that learning to write great descriptive stories is well worth your time.
Descriptive Writing is a Key Element of Novel Writing
Entrancing readers by stories that keep moving involves creating believable, vivid portrayals of
people, places, actions and events. Description isn’t separate from storytelling; it is a variety of
techniques, which are combined to make a story.
You may speed through a rough first draft of your story and not pay much attention to details,
but after that glorious rush of having gotten your story on paper, you must go back to it and
consciously review the descriptions of characters, scenes, etc. You will look at such things as:
Are my details correct – do the details reflect the true storyline or character traits?
Did I use the best point of view – which character can best describe what’s happening?
Would a scene work better as a narrative – Or vice versa?
Did I overdo description on a relatively unimportant piece of the story – like describing a
table in the corner?
Is the writing style too ornate or too plain – or have I achieved a nice balance?
Good descriptive writing does not just naturally flow from your pen; it must be worked at and
reworked. Practiced. Learning about descriptive writing is truly about learning the “craft” of
writing. All writers, of all experience levels, must purposefully and consciously apply the
techniques and details of description.
Novel Writing Tips: Understanding descriptive technique is critical to creating rich images in
the minds of your readers and for turning a novel from an account of something into a
description of something.
Descriptive Writing is Much about the Details
A descriptive detail is a phrase, image or word that helps a reader “see”. Sometimes the details
are told and sometimes they are shown. For example, if you write, “Lexa is happy”, that tells the
reader something about Lexa. But if you write about the sparkle in her eyes, the dimples that
appear with her smile or how she jumps up and down and claps her hands, a reader can envision
that scene. They’ve seen this before, in somebody. The enhanced description calls to mind
somebody who’s acted in just this way and they were definitely happy.
The point is to not just say that someone is happy, sad, angry, nervous, etc., but to allow your
readers to immerse themselves in the scene by imagining (with the help of your descriptive
writing) exactly those things. For example:
Sad – “The corners of her mouth had sagged long enough to make you wonder if she
ever smiled again, could the jowls spring back as well.”
Angry – “Man, his eyes were black, wild, shiny – and pointed at me.”
Nervous – “Her blue eyes glistened with tears and she stared into the clamoring
audience without seeing them, knowing the judges would pick someone else.”
You can finish reading this article on our website about Descriptive Writing.