Descriptive Writing: Conventions of the Form

Descriptive Writing: Conventions of the Form

Understanding the Purpose

  • Descriptive writing is all about creating a vivid image in the reader’s mind. It strives to communicate a deeper meaning through detailed, sensory-rich observations.

Choosing the Best Language

  • Sensory language is crucial in descriptive writing. Engage the five senses by including details about what characters see, hear, smell, touch, and taste.
  • Select adjectives carefully. Instead of opting for the most common ones, look for adjectives that add interest and specificity to your descriptions.
  • Play with similes, metaphors, and personification – these figures of speech can make descriptions more vivid and engaging.
  • Experiment with varying degrees of formality based on the narrator’s character and situation.

Building a Setting and Atmosphere

  • The scene’s physical layout is a key component of descriptive writing. Use precise language and detail to sketch the surroundings.
  • The atmosphere of a scene can mirror or alter a character’s feelings. Compose the mood via your choice of vocabulary, sentence length, and sensory details.

Establishing Visuals

  • Descriptive writing often places a high emphasis on visual detail – an effective tool for enabling the reader to visualise the world you are portraying.
  • Construct imagery to evoke clear pictures in your reader’s mind. Incorporate colours, shapes, sizes, and the arrangement of objects and spaces.

Showing, not Telling

  • Aim to show your reader what’s happening rather than just telling them. This ‘Show, don’t tell’ technique enlivens your writing and involvement of reader in your story.

Developing Characters

  • Character development in descriptive writing can be achieved through both direct description and indirect details, such as speech and actions.
  • The character’s physical attributes, thoughts, feelings, and motivations should be revealed with a balance of explicit and implicit information.

Employing Effective Pacing

  • Vary your sentence length to control the pacing and tone of your writing. Longer sentences can slow down the action, whereas short sentences can increase the pace.

Remember, practice is pivotal to mastering the techniques. Experiment with different strategies and review your work critically, always looking for ways to make your descriptions more vivid and evocative.