Writing to describe

The important thing with descriptive writing is that you know your ingredients and that you know why you are using them.

Look carefully at the following techniques:

  • Adjectives - describing words that describe a noun. Used to help create a more vivid picture in our minds about the named object.
  • Adverbs - words used to describe verbs. They help to create a more vivid picture in our minds about how something is being done.
  • Alliteration - repetition of connected words beginning with the same letter. Used to highlight the feeling of sound and movement, or to intensify feeling or to bind words together.
  • Connotations - an idea or feeling that a word invokes for a person as well as its literal meaning. Connotations evoke reactions in the reader based on their experience of certain words. For example, words like ghost and death can evoke strong negative connotations.
  • Pathetic fallacy - where the weather in the story mirrors the emotion of the scene or the people in it. For example, when it is very hot the characters are agitated or when it is foggy, mystery is evoked. This adds atmosphere to the writing and gives clues to the reader as to what is to come, especially if the weather is described before the event.
  • Personification - the technique of presenting things which are not human as if they were. This can make inaminate things seem as if they are alive and able to do the things that a person can.
  • Repetition - the action of repeating something. This will either add emphasis to the words being repeated or create a rhythm within the writing.
  • Onomatopoeia - use of words which echo their meaning in sound. For example, 'whoosh' or 'bang'. This techniques can give the reader a real sense of the noise that is happening within the writing.
  • Simile - a comparison based on a similarity between two things, which suggests one object shares features with another but is not identical. This technique helps to create an image in the mind of the reader so that the reader can identify with how things appear or may be happening. Hint - 'like' or 'as' are key words to spot.
  • Symbolism - when a word, phrase or image stands for or evokes a complex set of ideas. For example, a red rose can symbolise romantic love. Writers will sometimes use symbols in their writing so that they can suggest things without actually explaining them.