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 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 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.
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
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
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 ______.