In this excerpt from Jamaica Inn by Daphne du Maurier, notice the writer’s choice of adjectives, adverbs, and verbs. Granite. Mizzling. Du Maurier’s choice of words allows the reader to almost feel the weather occurring on the page.
My dog’s fur felt like silk against my skin and her black coloring shone, absorbing the sunlight and reflecting it back like a pure, dark mirror.
How many times have you written sentences like the ones above? *Raises hand* I think many writers experience this stumbling block, knowingly or unknowingly, because nearly every manuscript I have edited included these types of meaningless sentences. Why?
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In short, sensory words are the descriptive words that apply to the five senses:
Let’s look at the metaphor Fitzgerald uses in the last line of the book to see how these mini-stories can add depth to our own writing:
Yes, we would. That’s when vivid description comes in.
Brilliant writing is an art form. Only few writers pen down something which may be called brilliant, and they make it look easy. For the rest of us… but the art is learnable. As usual, the main thing you should do is: (drumroll) practise!
I did a bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing in my mid-twenties, aftermy first novel was published. (Yeah, I know that’s backward way on, but it seemed a good idea at the time!) It surprised me that vivid description of the story setting didn’t really come up until a module on ‘world-building’ for fantasy fiction.
If you struggle with coming up with metaphors and similes for your writing, it may help to go through some of your favorite books and see how the authors you admire use these literary devices.