We’ve all heard a kazillion times to “show don’t tell.” Often, when I look back over my writing, I see that I need help (or practice) writing my descriptions. It seem like I’m doing more telling.

One of the things I’ve been doing lately when I need to describe a scene is to brainstorm all the things that might be going on in that scene for example, sights, sounds, tastes, smells, physical feelings, and emotions. I try to imagine myself in “that place” and ask the following kinds of questions:

▪ What do I see?

▪ What do a hear?

▪ What do I smell and taste?

▪ What do I feel physically?

▪ What do I feel emotionally?

For example, I recently did a brainstorming session to come up with a description of a coastline. After I exhausted my imagination, I wrote the first draft of my passage. While I was making my notes, I wrote about clouds being torn apart and reforming and it sparked the idea for a metaphor to describe what was happening to my protagonist. The proverbial light goes on in his head – his life is like those clouds being torn apart and now he is faced with putting it back together.

I gotta tell you that my background is in technical writing so, yes, sometimes I have a real problem switching my brain over to get the creative juices flowing.

What tips, tricks, or techniques do you use for writing great descriptions? I’d love to hear your thoughts,



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