Descriptive Writing Examples and Methods to Engage Readers

An Audience-Engaging Writing Style

Great descriptive writing forms a picture in your readers’ minds. Whether it’s a person, place, or thing, it calls upon all of the senses – sight, touch, smell, and even taste.

Descriptive writing shouldn’t be confused with verbiage because in descriptive writing, the reader is given something with which to connect. This form of writing also triggers different areas of your reader’s brain to further deepen their engagement. Think of descriptive writing as progressing from black and white into technicolor.

Discover more with the following descriptive tips and methods to engage your readers.

Objective

Objective writing is information not influenced by your personal feelings or opinions in considering and representing the facts. Imagine you’ve witnessed an accident or crime and the police ask you for your account of the event. The most accurate information you can give them is the facts, unswayed by your own bias.

A blond woman in a blue baseball cap was driving a white SUV in the right lane heading west on Interstate 90 at 97 miles per hour.

Subjective

Subjective writing is based on or influenced by your personal feelings, tastes, or opinions. In articles, subjective writing shouldn’t be confused with a personal journal or a platform to vent your woes.

That maniac came out of nowhere and passed me on the right. The nerve! Just because you’re blond and drive a gas-guzzler doesn’t mean you’re queen of the road.

Analogy

An analogy is a comparison between two things, typically on the basis of their structure and for the purpose of explanation or clarification. Analogies are often used to arrive at or explain a logical conclusion.

“In the depth of his heart he knew he was dying … he simply did not and could not grasp it. The syllogism he had learnt from Kiesewetter’s Logic: ‘Caius is a man, men are mortal, therefore Caius is mortal,’ had always seemed to him correct as applied to Caius, but certainly not as applied to himself. That Caius — man in the abstract — was mortal, was perfectly correct, but he was not Caius, not an abstract man, but a creature quite, quite separate from all others….”

— Leo Tolstoy, The Death of Ivan Ilych

Similes

A simile is a figure of speech involving the comparison of one thing (i.e., “like” or “as”) with another thing of a different kind.

“Writing is like driving at night in the fog. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.”

— E.L. Doctorow

“Why do you sit there looking like an envelope without any address on it?”

— Mark Twain

Metaphors

A metaphor occurs when a word or phrase is figuratively applied to an object or action.

“All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players. They have their exits and their entrances.”

— William Shakespeare

“A committee is a cul-de-sac down which ideas are lured and then quietly strangled.”

— Sir Barnett Cocks

Additional Descriptive Language Tips

  • Employ Precision: Avoid vague language and generalities. Use vivid adjectives, nouns, and strong action verbs. It’s the difference between “This stuff is amazing and it will fix your problem” and “Want a dazzling smile? This amazing toothpaste will whiten your teeth brighter than a photographer’s flashbulb at a wedding.”
     
  • Direct: Avoid passive language by using active voice. For example: “Tacos are loved by people.” vs. “People love tacos.”

Full of interesting, relevant details as well as dynamic language, descriptive writing is easy. Discover how pumping up the detail in your writing can improve your audience engagement by trying any of the above methods. Remember: descriptive writing isn’t a license to gush negativity or ramble on. Form a vivid picture in your readers’ minds by providing color, taste, sight, and even smell in detail.

Before you go, join us in this fun descriptive writing exercise! Complete this simile in the comments section below:

Writing is like ______.

27 Comments »


1
Karl Zedell writes:

Writing is like waking in your darkened home and stumbling around in the dark until you turn on a light and discover you are in Wonderland!

Comment provided March 12, 2013 at 9:58 AM

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2
Nahid writes:

Writing is like learning to walk. You have to start with baby steps before you can take seasoned strides.

Comment provided March 12, 2013 at 10:41 AM

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3
Patricia writes:

Love the descriptive examples.

Comment provided March 12, 2013 at 12:40 PM

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4
Randall Magwood writes:

These are excellent writing tips, but they also serve as excellent copywriting tips. Good job with these tips on persuasive writing.

Comment provided March 12, 2013 at 2:42 PM

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5
Betty L Eriksen writes:

Great tips. Thanks for sharing.

Comment provided March 12, 2013 at 3:13 PM

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6
davidinnotts writes:

Writing can seem like casting your literary pearls before swine. The thing is, those fat swine that bring home your bacon are among the biggest consumers!

Comment provided March 12, 2013 at 3:44 PM

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7
Dave Hornbeck writes:

Writing is like running a race against yourself; running as fast as you can, wondering if you can win.

Comment provided March 12, 2013 at 6:53 PM

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8
Fran Young writes:

Writing is, at times, like Chinese water torture as the drops descend one at a time, causing no pain if only for a little while. But after hours and days, you eventually have a hole drilled into your forehead OR into the computer file where a story emerges.

Comment provided March 12, 2013 at 8:10 PM

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9
Joaseph Dabon writes:

I guess descriptive writing should be the backbone of every article – provided it doesn’t make it too superfluous and boring. I don’t know how many novels I’ve thrown aside for the simple reason that the authors spend as many as a couple of pages to describe an event, a scenario or just plain meandering thoughts.

Comment provided March 12, 2013 at 8:32 PM

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10

Different writing objects require a different set of writing rules. For that purpose, there are a few choices like writing a matter as subjective, objective or focused towards a specific set of community. This is because if a good content has been written customer’s language you are going to impress your audience in an effective way. Overall a great post :)

Comment provided March 13, 2013 at 12:33 AM

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11
Nile Lars writes:

I am not expert writer but just novice and as per my observation. User also want to read full article if your article have quality and something special. By professional I am developer but I am writing occasionally and I have observed than my article would be popular if it is with latest updates and wrapped with interesting stuff.

Comment provided March 13, 2013 at 12:42 AM

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12
Tiffany Oden writes:

Writing is like learning to ride a bike, you may fail at first, but through patient persistence you will be the best biker!!!

Comment provided March 13, 2013 at 5:50 PM

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13
MOHAN THULASINGAM writes:

Writing is like a mirror reflecting whatever comes before it. Somebody wrote that a Minutes of a meeting is generally a recording of what happened in a meeting that lasted for hours together.Yet the document is called as ” Minutes”.

Comment provided March 14, 2013 at 9:25 AM

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davidinnotts writes:

Good one, Mohan! Some ‘Minutes Secretaries’ for a meeting seem to think that the more minutes it takes to read the Minutes, the more valuable they are and the more worthy the Secretary is! Sometimes that’s true, but Minutes are often used as a way to manipulate those who read them, and obscuring the points may well be a part of that.

Someone (anyone know who?) invented a way to make Minutes more immediate and more useful. It’s called the ‘One minute Minute’ – using the word the two other ways, to mean both a minute in time to read the Minutes and ‘minute’ meaning ‘small’. The idea is that, near the end of the meeting, a stenographer types up a quick summary of what happened in the meeting, together with the key decisions and key actions that people would take in consequence. These would be prepared and distributed to attendees BEFORE they leave the meeting, with a chance to challenge the wording. That way, everyone has agreed to the accuracy of the one minute Minutes and knows what actions they’ll have to make (including next meeting!) before they leave. A full Minutes can follow if necessary.

I’ve mentioned all this because there’s a useful spin-off in the ‘One minute Minute’ for us as writers. One of the best article tips is to give a summary with action points. While this can come at the beginning, or after a short introduction, the best place is usually at the end, as you said. As with minutes of a meeting, the summary should be short and pithy, and urge the reader to action. If the summary is too long, or you fail to give action pointers, you’ve probably lost valuable customers!

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MOHAN THULASINGAM writes:

Good writing should enable the reader get clarity of the subject and make the reader seek more from you.

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14
Gracious Store writes:

Thanks for explaining the different writing styles

Comment provided March 14, 2013 at 10:44 PM

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15
Dave Hornbeck writes:

The most enjoyable reads I have experienced have been composed of fairly simple language. I don’t mind looking up a word now and then, but nothing will make me put a piece of writing down faster than discovering it’s written by some self absorbed pedant vomiting out a gut load of abstruse verbiage.

Comment provided March 15, 2013 at 2:37 PM

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davidinnotts writes:

Absolutely, Dave. I’m using about as high a language level here as is reasonable, chatting with other authors, but most of my articles are aimed at the thinking amateur in health, so I keep it much simpler there – apart from the medical words that even the Sun reader likes to know!

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16
Nahum Correa Ruvalcaba writes:

Writing, is like showing the exit of a labyrinth to my readers.

Comment provided March 15, 2013 at 7:43 PM

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17
shaheda shaikh writes:

Writing is like expressing feelings and feeling extremely good.

Comment provided March 28, 2013 at 2:17 AM

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18
Sydney Williams writes:

Great advise, there is nothing like painting a picture as you tell your story.

Comment provided March 29, 2013 at 4:26 PM

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19
Lopamudra Sinha writes:

Writing is like drawing a vivid picture with words instead of colors, which will describe your mind on a specific subject.

Comment provided April 1, 2013 at 8:38 AM

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20
Mickey Frederiksen writes:

Writing is like talking to someone you thought was in the room with you, but in fact, they were not.

Comment provided July 15, 2013 at 11:23 AM

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21
Fatema Gheewala writes:

Writing is like a jigsaw puzzle,First you dont know which piece joins which one.But slowly when you realize the whole picture, you can place all the pieces together one by one,making it a perfect picture.

Comment provided July 16, 2013 at 5:36 AM

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22
Bill Tasso writes:

Writing is like golfing. You can hit the ball every time – but it takes a moment or two to figure out where it actually went.

Comment provided December 4, 2013 at 6:29 PM

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23
Stephen Aiken writes:

Writing is like parenthood, it is filled with pain, sorrow, sadness,– and the most wonderful joy!

Comment provided March 27, 2014 at 11:50 AM

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24
Joe Massingham writes:

Writing is like drug addiction. You start as green as grass, you move on to sniffing around for satisfaction and only leave off when you’re on ice.

Comment provided December 28, 2014 at 6:02 PM

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