Descriptive Writing - Make it Realistic

All our writing; be it stories, blog posts, essays, articles, or books are strengthened as we use descriptive details to engage our readers.


Our need and aim is to grow our observation skills in general and specific ways. These skills could be the most essential task for writers and is true for narrative pieces and stories. Further, it creates relatable writing. For this, we must build our descriptive muscles.

Tips for writing descriptively:
1.    Use sense words: sight, smell, sound, texture and taste, and paint a picture for the readers’ imagination. As the sensory detail flows, the reader forms a mental picture and is attracted to the piece.

2.    Brainstorm specific pictorial ideas using post-it notes or a whiteboard.

3.    Build a collage of photos from magazines or sketches.

4.    Use description to make your writing vibrant, essential and focused.

5.    Spend 10-15 minutes playing the scene in your own imagination and then write it.

6.    Descriptions of physical features and appearance will support the story.

7.    Boost interest by using comparisons, metaphors, and simile.

8.    Use detail to express items of importance: the big picture, a specific purpose, or significant points.

9.    Stay focused on the topic to avoid confusing the reader with non-essential wordiness.

10.    Writing descriptively doesn’t require writing more, but often less.

11.    Too many descriptions can slow down the story, use it with the purpose of slowing the piece or avoid it.

Quick checklist for description in a piece:
1.    Do we “see” a mental picture or impression?
2.    Do the words engage the senses, describe shape, or time?
3.    Does it form a larger picture for the story or narrative?

Rebecca McClanahan is the author of “Word Painting, The Fine Art of Writing Descriptively”.  This is my current read and her masterful use of descriptive writing is astounding. It’s worth checking out.

Descriptive Word lists help to recognize just the right word for the piece.
Helpful links:

Wishing you all Wellness always! 
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.

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Karen Cioffi said...

Deborah, thanks for the tips on writing descriptions with realism. It helps create relatable reading.

Terry Whalin said...


I love these action-oriented exercises for helping writers add more realism and description into their writing. Thank you.

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deborah lyn said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
deborah lyn said...

thanks for commenting

deborah lyn said...

Thanks much,Karen

Linda Wilson said...

Thank you, Deborah, for your very helpful post. I would add that at least in children's literature, description needs to relate to your main character. The main character in my book coming out soon, Secret in the Stars, is an artist and I added descriptions of insects, birds, animals, etc. that she's sees through her eyes.

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