As a newbie writer, you may be starting to figure out your own personal style of writing. You are discovering what kind of narrator you are best with, what length of books you prefer, what genre you want to write in, along with so many other things that factor into what your books will be like and what audience they will attract. Despite all of these things, one thing that is essential in whatever you explore is descriptive writing. Descriptive writing brings your readership into your writing by taking advantage of their imaginations. In this post, you will find descriptive writing examples that will help you utilize the senses to the best of your abilities as a writer.
3 Descriptive Writing Examples
1. “In the late summer of that year we lived in a house in a village that looked across the river and the plain to the mountains. In the bed of the river there were pebbles and boulders, dry and white in the sun, and the water was clear and swiftly moving and blue in the channels. Troops went by the house and down the road and the dust they raised powdered the leaves of the trees. The trunks of the trees too were dusty and the leaves fell early that year and we saw the troops marching along the road and the dust rising and leaves, stirred by the breeze, falling and the soldiers marching and afterward the road bare and white except for the leaves.”
–Ernest Hemingway, A Farewell to Arms
If you are looking for advanced descriptive writing examples, then this excerpt fits the bill. Hemingway uses only the sense of sight, but the scene is very easy to imagine. He uses things that everyone can recognize no matter who they are and he uses them to his advantage. This is what you want to strive for when using descriptive language. This is the kind of descriptive writing that would work extremely well in fiction or nonfiction.
2. “It was lit by thousands and thousands of candles that were floating in midair over four long tables, where the rest of the students were sitting. These tables were laid with glittering golden plates and goblets. At the top of the hall was another long table where the teachers were sitting […] The hundreds of faces staring at them looked like pale lanterns in the flickering candlelight […] Harry looked upward and saw a velvety black ceiling dotted with starts […] It was hard to believe there was a ceiling there at all, and that the Great Hall didn’t simply open on to the heavens.”
–J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
The Harry Potter series provides a lot of great descriptive writing examples. If you’ve seen the movie, then you know, that this is such a good description of what was happening in those scenes.
Your reader should be able to visualize what your characters look like, and the setting of the room, in the same way, as this example has done.
Be mindful of the details you share, as sometimes knowing your story, can lead authors to leave out important details.
Once you have finished your writing, it is always a good idea to go back and make sure you didn’t leave any descriptive language out that will help the reader to know exactly what is happening.
3. “The flowers were unnecessary, for two o’clock a greenhouse arrived from Gatsby’s, with innumerable receptacles to contain it. An hour later the front door opened nervously, and Gatsby, in a white flannel suit, silver shirt, and gold-colored tie, hurried in. He was pale, and there were dark signs of sleeplessness beneath his eyes.”
–F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby
This descriptive writing example is short, but it gives a lot of information to the reader in just a few words. The description of Gatsby in this instance is very easy to picture in your mind. Just the idea of him being pale with dark circles under his eyes leads the reader to imagine the face of a very tired man. You don’t always have to exhaust yourself with descriptive writing, keep it short and precise. As long as you can picture your character from your writing, your readers will be able to as well.
Descriptive writing isn’t just for fiction writing either. It can be used in many non-fiction genres.
It helps to elevate the writing so that the reader can visualize exactly what is happening and learn the author better.
In genres such as memoirs and self-help where you describe your own personal experiences or that of someone else, being descriptive helps you seem more relatable to your target audience as your experience should mirror theirs.
With that being said, be mindful not to overuse descriptive writing. It is an element of writing that can bog down the writing and affect the pacing of a book if not implemented correctly.
While there are instances where being descriptive is a good idea, there are also instances when saying something simply works just as well. As a first-time author, it is very easy to tip the scale of over describing.
A quality of a good writer is knowing how and when to use descriptive writing to engage the readers of your book.
So, bookmark this page and use these descriptive writing examples as a guide if you ever need a little help with writing your book.