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12.1: Description

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    This chapter is brought to you by Dana Anderson.\(^{158}\)

    Creating Rich Experiences with Words

    Filmmakers make their movie worlds come alive through images, motion, sound, and special effects. Writers need to think like filmmakers and make their story worlds come alive through description.

    Rich description allows readers to imaginatively experience the subject by providing details that describe what something looks like and even how it sounds, smells, feels, and tastes. These sensory details give readers a rich experience, much like a movie.

    Sample Sensory Descriptions

    Sense Example(s)

    The sea of golden wheat swayed, almost danced in the breeze.

    The majestic Glacier Park lodge sat proudly at the end of the long-manicured lawn.

    I gazed at the endless night sky afire with glittering stars.


    The heavy door creaked open revealing a dim interior.

    In the distance, the fireworks sizzled and boomed, announcing another year.

    The ominous beat of helicopter blades cutting through the air put us all on edge.


    She sipped the bitter coffee wishing for cream.

    As the boy bit into the crisp Granny Smith apple, his face puckered at the unexpected tartness.

    A metallic tang filled my mouth as blood began to pool under my tongue


    I shivered uncontrollably even though I was zipped in my down sleeping bag.

    With every step, my pack rubbed my hips and shoulders raw, leaving sores screaming for me to stop.

    Tessa’s soft fur felt like silk against my skin.


    As we walked into the bakery, my senses were assaulted with sweet confections–buttery caramel, rich chocolate, yeasty dough, and burnt sugar.

    1. I felt of tickle of dust at the back of my throat as I walked down the aisles of musty books.

    When to Use Description

    Descriptive writing isn’t only used in narrative writing, but across many genres and fields. Technicians must include descriptive details when composing work orders. Nurses keep detailed reports when providing patient care. Police officers rely on description to clearly and accurately document incidents. Food critics write reviews rich with details of the cuisine and ambiance of restaurants. The list goes on. Descriptive writing can help strengthen the presentation of your ideas by helping the audience experience the subject.

    Want An Example?


    In recent years, many of St. Cloud's residents have congregated to Waite Park's stores and businesses for entertainment. However, people who focus their attention entirely on the Crossroads Mall or the Parkwood 18 theater are depriving themselves of the fun and tradition of downtown St. Cloud. The downtown bars, stores, and restaurants provide a rich experience that is unlike all others in Minnesota.

    For those who seek quiet conversations and steaming-hot drinks to start off your day, downtown St. Cloud can provide them with cozy coffee houses like the Meeting Grounds. Inside, groups of friends unwind with frosted coffee cakes, and individuals with books and newspapers recline with a new mug of cappuccino. As the sun rises in the back of the Meeting Grounds, visitors inhale the aroma of coffee beans and melting chocolate, and it becomes easier for them to take a few extra minutes before leaving for work.

    As those workdays dip into evenings, hungry downtown patrons, with their stomachs growling in unison, march to any one of the many eateries. Mexican Village spreads the aroma of spices and peppers rolled into a tortilla wrap with thick cuts of beef down the street. However, not to be outdone, House of Pizza strolls out its smell of pepperoni that tickles the nose, but then sends a message to the mouth that says, "Come this way." A wind gust brushes through the downtown area carrying the Green Mill's calzone aroma, which leaves those hungry patrons without an easy answer.

    With their stomachs filled, downtown patrons wander down the street to the retail shops. Some of the customers step into the Electric Fetus where the drums beat like avalanches, and the songbirds are in flight with microphones pressed against their lips. Further north, another sound rattles through each person's eardrum: the flipping of smooth pages from Books Revisited, where used literature is sold, stacked, then discovered by bookworms digging through each level. Books may be flipped, and songs may blare, but shoes scuff the tile floor of Herberger’s—a two-story department store where jewelry and clothing are yanked from the rack just as quickly as they are hung on.

    The sun sets and the moon rises, but that just means that St. Cloud's downtown bars will be overflowing with cheek-stretching smiles, wall-shaking music, and lip-licking beverages. The Tavern on Germain rapidly serves drinks such as Vodka Sours and Captain Cokes to customers sitting at their table. Along with the constant guzzling, he/she can go next door for live music ranging from the acoustic-guitar stringing of Leonard Mills to the horn-blaring excitement of Test Tube and the Tuba Players.

    Whether their hands are sorting through thin page of paperback books, or their mouths are chewing on the gooey cottage cheese of lasagna, downtown patrons are always on the go to the next hot spot. As the customers reach the end of the downtown St. Cloud district, most are ready to turn around and visit all the stops again. St. Cloud is bustling with retailers that will cause anyone's eyes to take a second glimpse.

    \(^{158}\)Anderson, Dana. “Description.” Writing Unleashed, Version 1. NDSCS; 2016.

    \(^{159}\)"Rhetoric and Composition/Description." Wikibooks, The Free Textbook Project. 6 Oct 2014, 10:20 UTC. 25 May 2016, 04:23 <>. Licensed CC-BY-SA.

    This page titled 12.1: Description is shared under a CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Sybil Priebe (Independent Published) via source content that was edited to the style and standards of the LibreTexts platform; a detailed edit history is available upon request.

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