Description is an art in itself. It takes practice to get it right. Try to visualize the scene you are describing and paint it in broad strokes.
“The meadow was bright in the sunlight. The tips of the grass waved in the breeze.” Pretty generic, right? That’s ok. Paint the scene in broad strokes so you can get the broad image into words. Then add details. We could rewrite those two sentences and get something like, “The sun poured bright green color over the grass in the meadow. The wind worked to dry the tips it ruffled on its way across the broad expanse.”
Picture the meadow in your mind. Then paint it in broad strokes and add in the details. Don’t get bogged down in details. Is the ant clinging to the waving blade of grass really necessary? Probably not. Trust that your reader likely knows that ants crawl around grass. Your goal is to get it down first. If the words don’t seem right, change them around until you find some that work for you. That’s why writers have dictionaries and thesauri. If you can’t think of the right word, look for a better one.
Going back to our meadow, is there something else you can add to your scene to give your reader a sense of being there? So far, we’ve only used one sense – sight. There are four more available. What does the wind feel like? “The sun poured bright green color over the grass in the meadow. The wind tickled the tips of the blades of grass on its way across the broad expanse. A brook splashed and tumbled over rocks through the middle of the meadow, the water flashing in the sunlight.”
Words are the most basic tool in a writer’s toolbox. Used with precision, they can take readers to foreign lands and other worlds. So be precise in your description, but don’t let that description get in the way of the story. Use the right words to invoke a sense of being there when describing the places where your story takes place. Bring the reader along for the ride.
To do that, you need to get your reader into the scene as early as you can. That’s where the description works best. That said, you don’t want to be too specific. No one wants to know exactly how big our meadow is, they only want to know that it exists. They want to know what happens there. So describe it, with enough detail to bring the reader to it, then get on with the action. Use descriptions to set the mood. You’re not selling the meadow, you are invoking a sense of it, a sense of peace. Then shatter that peace with the action. Little snippets of description here and there work best.
If you want to do more go to your favorite search engine and search on the keywords, writing, description and exercises. There are many sites with exercises to give you a chance to practice. Above all, practice on your stories. They will be the better for it.
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