September 23, 2010

Description that Wows! - Dorothy Bentley

Getting out of bed this morning was like climbing out of a marshmallow swamp; my delicious duvet had me trapped. But getting up was necessary... it was time to write my InScribe Blog entry.

Here are a few little tidbits I've picked up about writing description.

For comedic effect, exaggerate. Calling my bed a marshmallow swamp is not accurate. It's actually a typical queen-sized bed, with a comfy duvet, but saying that in writing would sound boring and not very funny. Doing this is not lying... it's merely stretching the truth. Someone once said, "Why ruin a good story with facts?" In other words, it is fine to take literary license, provided it is done in a harmless way.

For poetic effect, use imagery.

I recently wrote about Kootenay Lake in a newspaper article, calling the lake an aqua-bride. Wow... it made it through the editor's cut. The most fun a writer can have, is making up words and phrases. I once read in one of James Scott Bell's novels that a character was having cul-de-sac thoughts. In the next sentence, he explained what he meant by saying her thoughts continued to circle back around to the problem. That is the one and only time I have read that phrase, but it worked.

Dazzling description combines non-living characteristics with a person or animal, or conversely, personification: the lake calls to me; the trees wave; the person was like an acorn squash, rounded all over.

Have fun writing fresh, lively description. Your readers will be impressed!

~ © Dorothy Bentley


  1. Oh, cool but not an ice berg, sweet but no syrup. Good job.

  2. Dorothy, I always enjoy your postings!

    I liked that phrase 'cul-de-sac thoughts'.

    I've always been one to make up my own words when I can't find one suitable; now I know it'a okay to do!

  3. Anonymous1:48 pm GMT-7

    Blessings on your writing, Ladies!


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