Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Descriptions are a Piece of Cake

Wow--long time, no write. All due to the buying a house wonderfulness which has now turned into a house buying terror, nightmare, etc. (Whatever you want to call it. I'll post more on it later on my other blog).

Anyway, today and last night and for weeks upon weeks I have been tumbling over writing some things that help me do the writing I like to do.

I call myself a descriptive writer--I am crap at dialogue but I love descriptions. The tastes, the smells, the captive imagination that can seem so real at times and suck us in to those imaginary places.

I like to follow a few steps when doing descriptions and ask myself questions along with it.

1. What am I supposed to describe?
--Well, you really want to know what you're describing first when you start to describe something...duh. Now, to actually know what you're wanting to describe is a bit harder. You really need to focus on what is important in the scene.
You don't want to describe everything around the main character or a) you'll confuse the reader from the situation or b) your writing will get dull and boring and the reader will put your book down.

IE: Bob is noticing Sally's hair.

2. What do I want the reader to see, taste, smell, touch, hear from this description?
--If you've never eaten a grape, you're not going to know that some have seeds and some don't. You won't know that sometimes they are so tart that they can pull your cheeks in from the sides or that they can be as delicious as the best candy that has sat on your tongue and melted and makes you want to eat the whole bunch in one sitting. You wouldn't know that you could squish grapes easily or that even raisins are actually grapes--just wrinkled.
Using the 5 senses is HUGE in writing descriptions. Now, some things won't make noise, some things won't have a taste, etc. Once you've figured what you want to describe--make a list of the senses that would be necessary to show to the reader. Then from that list you can start writing your description.

IE: Sally's hair is: coarse, long, dark blonde, straight, and smells like coconuts.

P.S. If you need help with the 5 senses list--find pictures of the stuff you're trying to describe. Maybe more than one picture of the object. For example: If you're describing some kind of sword--use multiple photos to make your sword real to you first then make it real to your readers.

3. Now that I've got my senses list and my object to describe...how do I know what to look for in my writing a description?
--Adjectives. LOTS OF ADJECTIVES! Use them immensely. Don't use the "-ly" ones a whole lot because that can get tedious and make your description perilous because it will now sound like a horrible poem. Also, you will need to use commas correctly when using more than one description in a row.

IE: Sally had the most coarse, sandy colored hair.

Although that is a very elementary way of description--it's a good place to start. From then you can work from it.

IE: Bob ran his fingers through Sally's sandy hair. He felt the sleek, coarseness of it slide gently through them. He wrapped his entire hand through the straight strands and held it up firmly to his cheek noticing the smell of coconut rise from the pieces.

From there--I bet you can get the idea and put it all to use. Ciao! I'll to write more again soon!


  1. I love this post! It's so useful. And I can't write descriptions. They're always short and crap!

  2. hello! just thought I'd mentioned I've nominated you for A Lemonade Stand Award!