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Article:
Tips on Writing Description

Keep it brief. No one wants pages and pages of description anymore. It's hard to read a Dickens novel these days, as we are now much more interested in reading "what happens." We live in a hurry-up world, and you will lose readers if you slow down your narrative with too much description.

Blend description into your narrative. If it's important for readers to know that Abigail has a messy kitchen, work it in using only a few sentences.

Favor nouns and strong verbs over adjectives and adverbs.

The horse pranced toward us.
The wino slouched in the alley.

Choose adjectives carefully and use them sparingly.

One good adjective is better than three or four; definitely avoid the "laundry list."

Avoid using adverbs as crutches.

Example: Instead of writing "He said angrily," show his angry behavior or let his angry words show the anger. (This harks back to that old advice to writers: "Show rather than tell.")

Avoid adverbs like "very" and "really." Overusing qualifiers dilutes your writing.

Use fresh similes and metaphors in your descriptions.

A simile is a literary device that compares two unlike objects using the word "like."(Ex.: "She had the shears and combs and brushes lined up like surgical instruments.")

A metaphor is used to compare two unlike things without using the word "like." (Ex.: "The skyscrapers were stalagmites against the sky.")

Bring in as many of the senses as possible.

Weave in sounds, smells, tastes, etcetera, in addition to the way a scene looks. If possible, let the reader see the lapping waves, hear the foghorn, feel the sun, smell the brewing coffee. (Yes, it's a challenge to do all this, be brief, and blend it in, but sometimes we can pull it off!)

 

 

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