Descriptive Writing for Fiction and Non-Fiction

Make it Personable and Tangible

All of our writing, whether it be short stories, blog posts, essays, articles, or books are strengthened by using description details to engage our readers.

Descriptive sense words for sight, smell, sound, feel/texture, and taste, paint a picture for readers to enter the story. As long as the sensory detail fits the piece, the reader will form a viable mental image. The purpose of descriptive writing is to provide a written impression from which readers can easily form a mental picture.

Today we’ll talk about essays.
An essay is a non-fiction piece with categories that include expository, descriptive, persuasive or narrative. A descriptive essay is a genre of essay writing that describes an object, person, place, experience, emotion or situation. It can be a particular account of an event. We use sensory details, metaphors, analogy and simile to enliven the piece and help support the thesis.

•  Make it personable, tangible.
  Create the picture first in your own mind and your prose will follow with the details.
•  Details build the scene.
  We make the topic tangible by placing it in a setting.

Essay structure includes a thesis statement, core paragraphs regarding the topic, and a concluding paragraph to wrap the discussion and reaffirm the thesis. An essay can be as long as needed to express your message.

Advice we often hear is “Show, Don’t Tell”.
But a telling narrative also has its place. Telling could be the better choice when describing an unimportant detail, to summarize events that happen repeatedly, or to give context to a scene. Still, whenever it works, we want a detailed description to engage the reader and to move the essay or story forward.

Cultivate Writing Descriptively
Move It Forward

It’s time to gather lists of sensory adjectives to prime our reserves.
These links will help.


Magazine submissions for personal essays:

Contests for essay submissions:

Deborah Lyn Stanley is an author of Creative Non-Fiction. She writes articles, essays and stories. She is passionate about caring for the mentally impaired through creative arts. 
Visit her writer’s website at:   
See her caregiver’s website and her book for caregivers at:
Facebook: Deborah Lyn Stanley, Writer


Terry Whalin said...
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Terry Whalin said...


Thank you for these great reminders about the importance of including descriptive details. They say the hardest thing to find in our writing is something not there.

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deborah lyn said...

Thanks Terry. Great saying - it's just not there.......Yet :)

Karen Cioffi said...

Deborah, great information on using descriptive details in your writing. Most authors don't think of that when writing nonfiction. Thanks for sharing!

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