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How to Successfully Write Descriptive Text

How to successfully write descriptive text using just five simple building blocks you have used your whole life.

In order to write a piece of descriptive text and paint a picture within your readers mind it is important to remember five things: your senses.


Perhaps the most obvious thing to write about is what you can see. What does the plant life look like? Are there tall, towering trees? (Note: alliteration) What about the sky- you may choose to say it is night time, you may choose to say, “A thick blanket of night had fallen above the treetops. Only the moons glow lit the path from here to freedom.”


What can you smell? Baking? Spices? Petrol/ Gas? What you can smell, can change the way the reader views what can be seen.


This is a sense that is not always deemed necessary in descriptive writing- but you’d be surprised. If the descriptive text is part of an extended piece of prose writing, perhaps the protagonist can taste ‘sweet revenge’, or perhaps it made you ‘feel so sick bile formed at the back of your throat.’


How does the ground feel beneath your feet? Your heart inside your chest or pulse within your veins? What about the bark of the trees as you fumble through a forest in the dark, desperately racing to get out?


In order to capture this and understand how sound works, sit quietly with your eyes closed. What do you hear and how does it relate to where you are? I do this now:

“I never noticed how much noise was in the background before. The whir of the kettle boiling to provide coffee. The buzz of my laptop battery, desperately hanging on to the last eight per cent of battery. John Snow’s voice fills the room. He tells of the sheer scale of destruction in Japan. Thousands dead, more missing. Even without seeing the images I can feel the rush of emotion that comes with the scenes.”

As you can see, it is quite simple to paint a full and proper picture of what surrounds you or your character by using the five senses we learnt about aged just three years old, yet now in our adult lives as we write, they are the simple building blocks of creativity.

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