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 hour at work, your detail inventory might look something like this (remember, each “sense” would be on a separate piece of paper):

Sight
walls, window, view outside

Hearing
phones ringing, conversation, radio

Smell
your lunch, fresh paint, perfume

Touch
keyboard, desktop papers

Working with one sense (page) at a time, write down two very different emotions or moods (for a real workout, try to come up with a different pair of emotions for each sense) and make a column for each one. Then, under each column, make a list of descriptive words that you think evoke the emotional response you’re after. Working with our sample above, let’s choose the “smell” page and experiment with “fear” and “love” as our emotions. The fear column might contain words like “pungent,” “acrid,” “nauseating,” “cloying,” or “toxic,” while the “love” column might feature “heavenly,” “delicious,” “tangy,” “exotic,” and “intoxicating.” Get out a thesaurus and go crazy.

Now take the exercise one step further, and imagine the possible physical reactions a person could have to these smells and put those in the appropriate column as well. In the fear column for instance, the smell of the food might make you feel sick to your stomach, but in the love column it makes your mouth water. In the fear column, the smell of the paint might blur your vision and make your head ache, but in the love column it might make you feel dreamy and slightly high–you get the idea.

This is the kind of exercise you can–and should–do anytime you feel “blocked,” or when you need a little creative push.


This article was taken from:

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