One very important aspect of writing is utilizing the power of description to its fullest extent. When a new setting, scene, or place is being introduced to the reader, an author often uses very descriptive writing in order to convey a particular message about the place he or she is describing. Take these two examples:
On the street, there were two grey buildings, a cat, a couple of garbage cans, and some newspapers.
In this description, although I do talk about what’s on this street, there’s no description of what this place feels like, smells like, etc. Here’s a revised version of my description:
Along the dark part of the street, two derelict grey buildings sat at an angle, almost like two people bowing towards one another. The windows had been shattered, and there lay broken bits of glass scattered throughout the sidewalk. A black cat slinked past me, cocked its head to one side, gave me a suspicious stare, and stalked off. From the dumpsters a couple yards ahead, a few newspaper broadsheets fluttered in the air, their graphics advertising events that had long since passed.
As you can see, not only have I added a lot more description to my pretty bland scene, but I’ve also set a tone and mood. If I were walking down this street, I’d definitely feel a bit scared and spooked out. A good description of a place or scene not only adds a lot more adjectives, but also provides a mood. You want your reader to feel whatever the character might feel as he or she is walking down this street as well.
Another potentially bland description could be a description of the weather. If I want to describe the type of weather to the reader, I could say:
It was sunny.
Or, I could talk about what type of “sunny” it was. After all, it could be sunny on a cold winter day, or it could be a real scorcher in the middle of July.
It was sunny. Not the nice, springtime, breezy sunny, but an uncomfortable and hot type of sunny, where you started sweating the moment you stepped outside. The ice cream which I bought at the general store started dripping the second I stopped outside, and continued to ooze as I made my way around the tourists on the boardwalk. The sun was a red fireball, beating down on my back as I fought a losing battle of trying to eat my ice cream before it all ended up on the ground. It was a cloudless day, with not a single moment of respite from a fire that seemed to engulf the entire city.
Once again, I’ve introduced a mood and tone to describe the scene. I’ve made it clear that this isn’t a pleasant type of sunny, but rather one where you’d rather be at the beach, or in a tub of cold water at home, instead of playing outside. I’ve also appealed to the reader’s senses by adding the ice cream as a descriptive element; I’m sure we’ve all had it happen where it’s so hot that the ice cream seems to turn into soup within our hands.
Using good description is one of the many keys to success on your way to becoming a good writer. So, when you put pen to paper, don’t just think about what the scene in your mind looks like: think about what feelings, sounds, sights, and even tastes that you might experience within the scene, and you’re well on your way to fine-tuning your writing!