A good descriptive paragraph is like a window into another world. Through the use of careful examples or details, an author can conjure a scene that vividly describes a person, place, or thing. The best descriptive writing appeals to multiple senses at once—smell, sight, taste, touch, and hearing—and is found in both fiction and nonfiction.
“Once in a long while, four times so far for me, my mother brings out the metal tube that holds her medical diploma. On the tube are gold circles crossed with seven red lines each―”joy” ideographs in abstract. There are also little flowers that look like gears for a gold machine. According to the scraps of labels with Chinese and American addresses, stamps, and postmarks, the family airmailed the can from Hong Kong in 1950. It got crushed in the middle, and whoever tried to peel the labels off stopped because the red and gold paint came off too, leaving silver scratches that rust. Somebody tried to pry the end off before discovering that the tube falls apart. When I open it, the smell of China flies out, a thousand-year-old bat flying heavy-headed out of the Chinese caverns where bats are as white as dust, a smell that comes from long ago, far back in the brain.”
Notice the vivid description of smoke in this excerpt from Rebecca Harding Davis’s Life in the Iron Mills:
Because descriptive text is so powerful, many examples of it can be found in famous literature and poetry.
A little goes a long way!
A metaphor allows you to say all of this, and more, in just four or five words.
This is an important phase of writing a descriptive essay. Prewriting phase will define how you will shape your essay. In this phase, sit back and think what you are going to write, how you are going to write, and on what topic you are going to write. You need not to have a famous or popular topic, but your writing should make it famous. When you select the topic, think about the qualities you are going to describe that topic. Give your brain a boost and make a list of all the details you will describe. You will have to make great use of what, where, and when.
- What is Descriptive Writing?
- The purpose of descriptive writing
- Descriptive Writing Techniques
- Descriptive Writing Examples
- Types of Descriptive Writing
- Features of Descriptive Writing
- Tips for good descriptive writing work
Akerson, V. L., & Young, T.A. (2005). Science the ‘write’ way. Science and Children, 43(3), 38-41.
1. Good descriptive writing includes many vivid sensory details that paint a picture and appeals to all of the reader’s senses of sight, hearing, touch, smell and taste when appropriate. Descriptive writing may also paint pictures of the feelings the person, place or thing invokes in the writer. In the video section below, watch a teacher use a Five Senses Graphic Organizer as a planning strategy for descriptive writing.