example of descriptive writing
To be good, descriptive writing has to be concrete, evocative and plausible.
The sunset filled the sky with a deep red flame, setting the clouds ablaze.
In the first paragraph of this descriptive excerpt, the author clearly describes the decrepit nature of the violin case, as well as the damage time has done to the bow. The second paragraph is a description of the characters, and their similarities. Both use sensory information for effective descriptions.
As far as clear and concise language is concerned, it is necessary to describe things precisely. Imagery is used to make things seem real and remarkable. The use of the five senses creates the imagery, or a mental picture, for each reader.
I was looking up when the first clear thunderbolt struck. It blazed against the sky and sea; I could see its shape in perfect reverse colors when I blinked. More followed. The thunder rumbled and stuttered as if it could hardly keep up. There were openings in the cloud now, as if the sky were torn, and spots of brilliant blue shone above the shadowed sea.
A news story with a summary of the event, context about the people involved, information about the place where it occurred and insight into other events it links to
“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.”
by Maxine Hong Kingston
3. Good descriptive writing uses precise language. General adjectives, nouns, and passive verbs do not have a place in good descriptive writing. Use specific adjectives and nouns and strong action verbs to give life to the picture you are painting in the reader’s mind.
This video is published with permission from the Balanced Literacy Diet. See related how-to videos with lesson plans in the Writing Processes and Strategies section.