Descriptive Writing Techniques


Describe from memory

Take the topic or object that you are going to write about and picture it in your mind. Take yourself to where that object is located. It maybe a room in your home, a favorite animal, or maybe it is fresh, homemade cookies. Imagine that you are close enough to touch the object. Can you feel it? Look at it closely. What does it look like? What do you feel as you are imagining the object you are going to describe? Use these thoughts to generate free writing. Write every detail about the object that you can remember.



Draw a picture of your object. Visualize it in your mind and sketch from memory, or place yourself comfortably near the object. Allow yourself to fully explore the object and then draw what you experience. Don't worry about not being an artist. This sketch is just for you to help you fully explore the details of the object. Sketching the object also gives you a creative outlet for when you are struggling with putting pen to paper.


Objective and subjective data chart

For me the best way to really get some ink flowing in all directions for a descriptive piece is to break apart the subjective and objective material. A good way to do this is to take a piece of paper and draw a line down the middle. On the top of one side of the line write the word objective and on the top of the other side of the line write the word subjective. Now, keeping your topic in mind write everything you can think of that is objective about the object. If you think of something subjective don't worry, just write it in the other column. Do this until you have exhausted yourself or the store runs out of paper. Don't worry about having complete sentences; just get ideas on paper. With this, you have a good start to writing a descriptive piece. All the details are right in front of you. You may also discover which way you would like to lean toward in regards to whether or not you want your piece of writing to be more subjective, more objective or balanced.


Create a list of desired outcomes for your descriptive piece

The big advantage to this is direction. If you have no idea where you are going with your piece of writing about your Kermit the Frog underwear, then you may want to do some brainstorming on what you want to accomplish. Do you want the reader to be moved by the piece because the object is special to you? Do you want the reader to rush out of their house and drive to yours because you are trying to sell your car? Think about what you for an outcome both for you and the reader. Write them down on a piece of paper (or type them).


Different degrees of objective & subjective balance with different paragraphs

When you have a good feel for your topic, write a couple of paragraphs with different objective and subjective balance. Write one paragraph that is completely objective. For example, something you would find in the classifieds section of your newspaper. Then write a short paragraph that is heavily subjective. Do a couple different paragraphs to get a feel for what would work best for your object with regards to your intended reader and your relationship to the object. For instance, if you are writing about your favorite chair, you may find it makes more sense, and is more fun to write about it with the balance leaning toward subjective writing.

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