In descriptive writing, the author does not tell the reader what was seen, felt, tested, smelled, or heard. Rather, he describes something that he experienced and, through his choice of words, makes it seem real. In other words, descriptive writing is vivid, colorful, and detailed.
Bringing Words to Life
Descriptive writing creates an impression in the reader’s mind of an event, a place, a person, or thing. The writing will be such that it will set a mood or describe something in such detail that if the reader saw it, they would recognize it. Descriptive writing will bring words to life and makes the text interesting.
Some examples of descriptive text include:
- The sunset filled the entire sky with the deep color of rubies, setting the clouds ablaze.
- The waves crashed and danced along the shore, moving up and down in a graceful and gentle rhythm like they were dancing.
- The painting was a field of flowers, with deep and rich blues and yellows atop vibrant green stems that seemed to beckon you to reach right in and pick them.
- The old man was stooped and bent, his back making the shape of a C and his head bent so far forward that his beard would nearly have touched his knobby knees had he been just a bit taller.
- His deep and soulful blue eyes were like the color of the ocean on the clearest day you can ever imagine.
- The soft fur of the dog felt like silk against my skin and her black coloring glistened as it absorbed the sunlight, reflecting it back as a perfect, deep, dark mirror.
Descriptive Text in Literature
Because descriptive text is so powerful, many examples of it can be found in famous literature and poetry.
In this excerpt from Jamaica Inn by Daphne du Maurier, notice the writer’s choice of adjectives, adverbs, and verbs.
“It was a cold grey day in late November. The weather had changed overnight, when a backing wind brought a granite sky and a mizzling rain with it, and although it was now only a little after two o’clock in the afternoon the pallor of a winter evening seemed to have closed upon the hills, cloaking them in mist.”
You can see that the writer had to carefully choose his words so that the reader could almost see and feel the weather that was occurring.
Notice the vivid description of smoke in this excerpt from Rebecca Harding Davis’s Life in the Iron Mills:
“The idiosyncrasy of this town is smoke. It rolls sullenly in slow folds from the great chimneys of the iron-foundries, and settles down in black, slimy pools on the muddy streets. Smoke on the wharves, smoke on the dingy boats, on the yellow river–clinging in a coating of greasy soot to the house-front, the two faded poplars, the faces of the passers-by.”
In Alfred Tennyson’s “The Eagle” he conveys power and majesty in just a few lines:
“He clasps the crag with crooked hands;
Close to the sun in lonely lands,
Ring’d with the azure world, he stands.
The wrinkled sea beneath him crawls;
He watches from his mountain walls,
And like a thunderbolt he falls.”
Descriptive Text in Songs
Descriptive text examples can also be found in many songs, since songs are meant to capture your emotions and to invoke a feeling.
“Thinking Out Loud” by Ed Sheeran uses descriptive language beautifully to evoke feelings of love and romance:
“Take me into your loving arms
Kiss me under the light of a thousand stars
Place your head on my beating heart”
It’s All in the Detail
Now that you have several different examples of descriptive text you can try your hand at writing a detailed, descriptive sentence, paragraph or short story. Use some figurative language to help to paint a picture and evoke emotions.