Description for description’s sake doesn’t make good writing. Whenever possible, description should be woven into the other story elements. Think of description as spice. Without any spices, food might be bland. With too much, the food might be uneatable. And with the right amount, it enhances our enjoyment.
Give your description specifics. Instead of “the dog” use “German Shepherd.”
In place of saying a situation is “mysterious” or a character is “playful” use words or phrases that give the impression of the mood you wish to create.
Find ways to tie description into the action of characters. Use the setting to evoke some emotion or experience of a character.
Maggie’s jeans were torn and dirty.
Maggie’s Levi’s drug along the dirt pathway, kicking up dirt which the cotton collected, adding grim to spots of skin that showed through ragged openings.
Weave with Character
He wore a bright, yellow shirt.
Mary flinched, raising her hand to her eyes, as Tom walked out the elevator, his shirt as bright as the noon day sun.
Brent saw Alicia walk into the café wearing a dark dress and shoes.
Alicia stopped just inside of the dimly lit Café Ramon. Brent watched her look around as he traced the top if his gin glass. Her dress was perfect for a late dinner date and one word entered his mind as he licked his lips: juicy.
Tying into Setting
The house sat on the hilltop, not a tree nearby.
Abandoned, Eldridge Manor sat on the hilltop. Richard took in a deep breath, letting the loneliness of long ago melt into him as he watched the house of his childhood.
Question for today: Up for a challenge? Try this: Take these telling sentences and turn them into GOOD descriptions by weaving them into other story elements.
The waves crashed on the beach.
Wendy ran across the street into oncoming traffic.
His shirt was bloody and torn.
The dog ran through the park.
Timothy watched the storm clouds gather.