For Authors

Tell Me More! The Power of Descriptive Words

The one thing that will help your writing immensely is mastering the use of descriptive words. The more vivid you can make your writing, the easier it is for your reader to experience the emotions and feelings associated with your story. It will also draw your reader in because it is touching on their experiences, and even their own thoughts or dreams. If you are writing a nonfiction book, descriptive examples will more clearly illuminate your teaching points. By increasing their ability to relate to you, it will create a bond that will not only keep them reading, but will also give you the privilege to speak into their life and have influence over their thoughts and actions.

Here are three ways you can include more descriptions in your writing:

1. Add descriptors to objects and actions – AKA use adjectives and adverbs

One of the easiest ways to bring your writing to life is by adding additional descriptions to the items or the actions you are writing about.

Let’s start with this sentence as an accurate statement:
Then he picked me up, carried me into the room and laid me on the bed.

But, this is a little more specific:
With his large frame, he confidently picked me up. Quickly, he carried me into the guest room. He gently laid me on the firm bed.

While this gave some more insight as to what might be going on, it is still fuzzy in the reader’s mind as to what might be happening. Let’s add some more descriptive examples.

2. Utilize all 5 Senses – sight, sound, smell, taste and touch

As you add descriptive words, remember the power of all five senses. Not that you have to use all in every example; however by giving clues to the situation through these different types of stimuli, you will invite your reader to fully engage in the situation you are sharing. You can even use a thesaurus to help you conjure up more colorful, descriptive words to pinpoint the experience you are conveying to your reader.

In adding to our example:
With his large frame, he confidently picked me up. Quickly, he carried me into the cold, dark guest room. As he gently laid me on the firm bed I caught a whiff of bleach from the crisp white sheets.

The “cold, dark” room gives us some insight that this interaction might not be the sweet loving encounter or embrace that some readers could have been thinking. Then to add the “whiff of bleach” creates a very sterile feel. Now you can start to sense the atmosphere of where this story was taking place.

3. Use analogies, similes and metaphors – This will make your writing smooth like butter! 😉

Analogies, similes, and metaphors are all literary tools that use comparison to further describe an item, a situation, or a circumstance. Each of these elements are unique, but for our purposes today, we are going to lump them together like peas in a pod! (You can learn more about these at www.literarydevices.com) Using comparisons will give people a new insight to what you are describing as well as making your topic more relate-able.

Expanding our example:
With his large frame, he confidently picked me up. I felt like a small rag doll laying motionless across his arms. Quickly, he carried me into the cold, dark guest room. As he gently laid me on the firm bed I caught a whiff of bleach from the crisp white sheets. As a means of protection, my spirit momentarily escaped my body so the sexual exploitation was committed to an empty shell.

BOOM! Now you get the full story. Did you feel it? Doesn’t it make you want to hear more?

Clarify Your Story to Bring Interest

It is pretty amazing how fun and easy it is to use descriptive words to craft your story. You can further explain the situation and communicate the emotions that involved. Look at the sentence we started with. It actually could have been the start to the evening between a loving husband and wife…or the basis for a rape scene. It was only after adding the specific examples and other descriptive words that the picture was painted of this woman’s tragic experience.

As you write, remember to clearly paint the picture and tell the scene. Play with the language and the words you choose. Grab your reader and them and keep them engaged. As a result, they will feel more connected, and in turn, more receptive to reading further, trusting your advice, and continuing in the conversation with you.

Thanks to The Bearded Book Editor for your feedback on elements of this blog post. 

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