Descriptive Writing Exercise

Choose some details from the room you’re sitting in right now and think about how you might describe them in different ways to establish different moods. First of all, make an inventory of what you can see, smell, hear and touch. This first list should be purely objective, using words that simply state what the objects are, and what sense(s) they engage (put each sensory category on a separate piece of paper). For example, if you’re writing on your lunch … Learn More →

Unity & Rhythm

Find an article in a magazine or newspaper and count the length of sentences in the first two or three paragraphs. How well does the author vary sentence rhythm? Select a few paragraphs from an article or nonfiction book and rewrite them, changing the pronoun viewpoint. How does this change affect the impact of the writing? Find a piece of writing-it can be fiction-that is written in past tense, and rewrite a few paragraphs, changing it to present tense. What … Learn More →

Setting & Description Exercises

Start a “setting” journal. Begin looking at the world around you with a writer’s eye. Make observations about everyday details, such as weather, topography, flora and fauna. But also make note of emotional connections, unusual metaphors, descriptive phrases, sensory responses, etc–anything and everything you observe and experience can be used in your fiction at some point. Start researching foreign or historical settings of interest to you and note your findings in your journal. Keep track of resources such as reference … Learn More →

Writing Dialect

It’s important to establish a unique voice for each important character, especially in a story with a large cast of characters. One way to do this is through the use of dialect or other special speech patterns. Be careful, though, not to overwhelm your readers with pages of phonetically spelled dialogue or whole speeches made in a foreign language (including “slang” speech) with no translation. Generally, a few key words or phrases are enough to tune the reader’s “ear” to … Learn More →

Adding Texture With Description

Some writers use a lot of description, others use very little. There’s no right way. But when there’s so much description the story’s momentum bogs down, that’s too much. If there’s so little that the characters or settings are bland and unmemorable, that’s too little. Most writers, myself included, have many descriptive passages that they love, but that they wisely cut from a story because they call too much attention to themselves and detract from the story. Anytime you see … Learn More →