3 ways to improve descriptive writing
Writers can never get enough opportunities to write more detail. We live in the cracks on the pavement and the blank spaces between letters. Here are 3 quick writing activities that you can set your students to help them improve description and descriptive writing.
1. Find all the details
Here’s a quick-write task you can to practise the skill of ‘finding all the details‘. Choose one room in your house and list everything that can be: seen, smelt, heard, felt (and tasted). Write 100 words describing this room using only sensory imagery. When you have finished writing, ask yourself this question – were you able to create a sense of the room with this tightly controlled word count? If not, consider why? Look at your nouns and adjectives, are they specific and precise? Did you waste words? Make just 5 changes and see if this improves your writing.
2. Look beyond the surface
Description isn’t always just about giving an accurate observation of something. Sometimes it’s about seeing it deeply. Perhaps we need to look into the heart of things before we can describe them well. Use these quick-write tasks to practise this skill:
- Sit somewhere public (the cafeteria at school is perfect for this).
- Describe the faces of 5 strangers, show personality through expressions and gestures.
- When you have your 5 descriptions, create some conflicts between them.
One character bumps into another character. One character asks another for help.
- How would your character react based on the personality you created for them?
3. Slow your description down
Slow writing is the opposite of quick writing and quick writes. The idea is to write slowly, precisely, carefully, selecting each word intentionally. Slow writing can take 5 minutes with one sentence and 30 minutes with a paragraph.
Imagine this scene: It is sunset and you are waiting for your friends, who are late. Describe the setting as the day moves towards darkness.
So how can you slow your writing down? you are waiting, probably bored, perhaps a bit annoyed. Now,
s-l-o-w your writing down, exactly like time seems to have slowed down while you are waiting. Walk your reader through the tick, tick, tick of your watch as you wait.
If you enjoyed these writing tasks and prompts then you should check out my writing prompt sets on TeachersPayTeachers. You can find them here.