Stocking Stuffers for Writers: Description

We know time is in short supply, so each day leading to Christmas, we’ll offer 5 simple, smart tips on an important topic to writers, helping with craft enhancement, revision and social networking!


Today’s Stocking Stuffer: Honing your mad DESCRIPTION skillz:

1–Engage all five senses. It’s not just a dog. It’s a wheezing, drool-dripping, greasy-haired dog who has recently rolled in dead rat remains, the smell of which requires you to re-swallow that last bite of omelet you had for breakfast. Now that’s a dog.

2–Be consistent. Choose words that fit with your tone and describing character. A sad woman’s hairbrush is heavy, rough, and drags through her hair like sickly fingers. The same brush in the hands of a child? Glittery, prickly, and made in Santa’s workshop.

3–Make your descriptions do double (or triple) duty. A description of a room should not only tell about the room, but also about the person who lives there, or the history of the place, or what it’s residents are hiding, or how a visitor might perceive it, or whatever else will add to your scene.

4–Similes and metaphors. These comparisons can pack a descriptive punch if you remember some important tips: keep them simple, make them fitting (to the character, tone, time period, audience, etc.), and don’t overuse them.

5–Break it up. Don’t tempt boredom by including long paragraphs of description. Sprinkle in the details a bit at a time, through narrative, dialogue, dialogue beats, a character’s thoughts, etc.

Image: PublicDomainPictures @ Pixabay


Becca Puglisi is an international speaker, writing coach, and bestselling author of The Emotion Thesaurus and its sequels. Her books are available in five languages, are sourced by US universities, and are used by novelists, screenwriters, editors, and psychologists around the world. She is passionate about learning and sharing her knowledge with others through her Writers Helping Writers blog and via One Stop For Writers—a powerhouse online library created to help writers elevate their storytelling. You can find Becca online at both of these spots, as well as on Facebook and Twitter.
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12 Responses to Stocking Stuffers for Writers: Description

  1. Girl Friday says:

    Just wanted to say I love this blog 🙂 SO MUCH brilliant stuff. Thank you.

  2. AubrieAnne says:

    These are great for just about any kind of writing. It’s been great sprucing up these skills. 🙂

  3. Carol Riggs says:

    Ooo, yeah, excellent advice! I love making all the details “fit” each character or scene, in all its subtleties and different connotations.

  4. Awesome. Before I clicked over I thought it was gift ideas for writers and my immediate thought was – time and amazon gift cards. 🙂 Thanks for the great tips.

  5. So glad these tips are coming in useful!

  6. Jan Markley says:

    Love the stocking stuffer advice! Hope your stocking is stuffed with lots of writerly treats!

  7. Becca,
    What a great reminder. I’ll take 2 please!!

  8. I love this! Believe it or not (and this is the HONEST truth), I spent hours and hours working through my MS last Friday using ALL of your sidebar thesauri. SOOOOOO helpful! 🙂

  9. Great advice as always. And so easy to remember when presented this way. 🙂

  10. Nice stocking stuffers.

  11. Great advice! I love this stocking. Thanks! : )

  12. LOVED this!
    Never hurts to be reminded of this kind of stuff!

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