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How to Write Vivid Descriptions to Capture Your Readers: 7 Writing Tips

Written by MasterClass

Last updated: Nov 8, 2020 • 3 min read

Writing vivid descriptions involves using specific language to help your own writing stand out and form a detailed mental picture for readers. Whether it’s for a novel, formal essay, short story, or public speaking event, it’s important to make sure your writing is memorable and interesting for your audience.



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What Is Vivid Writing?

Vivid writing paints a clear picture using descriptive language, energizing your writing and making memorable mental images stick in your readers’ minds. Descriptive language helps business writing, bloggers, novelists, and screenwriters alike. Good writing makes use of vivid language, allowing readers to see clearly what the author has envisioned.

7 Tips for Writing More Vividly

Vividness comes from the use of descriptive words. If you’re a speechwriter, creative writer, public speaker, or essayist looking to take your writing to the next level with evocative description, the following writing tips can help:

  1. Use sensory details. Writing descriptive sentences using sight, touch, sound, smell, and taste is a good way to draw your readers in and help them experience your descriptive writing the way you’ve intended. Vivid verbs and adjectives that use all five senses can help create a concrete visual for your audience—imagining you’re a character in your own piece and describing the scene around you as if you were really there will help your readers imagine they’re really there as well, bringing the writing into real-life and giving it the sense of vividness.
  2. Use literary devices. Figurative language goes beyond the literal meaning of your formal or creative writing. Figures of speech like metaphors and similes make comparisons with your words as these devices bring the abstract into the concrete. Other good examples are alliteration and onomatopoeia, which can give a rhythm and noise to your words, playing with sounds to paint a picture. Hyperbole and personification can also give greater depth and graphicness to what you write, infusing your words with vivid details.
  3. Use descriptive verbs. Instead of walking through the mud, your character should trudge. Instead of quickly getting up to open the door, your character bolts to unlock it. Giving urgency and impact to your word choices can help viewers envision the specific stage you’re crafting for them. Even in nonfiction writing like speeches or essays, vivid language can bring your message to the forefront and make it as impactful as possible. Find our list of descriptive verbs here.
  4. Use the active voice. Concise, active words in your descriptive writing can make it more vivid. By starting with your subject, it infuses your sentences with action, creating activity and interest in your key message. Starting with the action can be exciting and invigorating to audiences, and keep them paying attention. Learn the difference between active and passive voice here.
  5. Use other authors. Read up on notable or your favorite authors and see how they infuse their writing with vividness. Never plagiarize, but find inspiration in how other authors structure their sentences and use descriptive words to add more creativity and intrigue to their writing.
  6. Use writing prompts. Writing exercises can help get the creative juices flowing and brainstorm other ways to approach writing a particular subject. Prompts that force you to use your writing skills to come up with strong adjectives and verbs for its exercise may be helpful in how you craft your writing.
  7. Use vivid descriptions wisely. Vivid descriptions can improve your writing, but going overboard on details will slow down your narrative and overwhelm the reader. Your word choices when writing vividly should be used efficiently and carefully, only including what is needed for your readers to clearly step into your mind and view the scene you’ve set up for them.
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