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Exercises to Make Your Writing Descriptive

Updated on February 22, 2012

“Show don’t tell.” The mantra of writing instructors all over the world. If you have taken a class on writing, creative or not, chances are you have heard those words. Easier said than done right?

When we speak it is to get a message across but often writing has a different job. To take the reader on a journey. So with this in mind we must learn how to play to our readers senses and make our writing jump off of the page. We must show, not tell what we are trying to say.

For example, say you are talking about how you got home one day and someone had decorated for Christmas, there are two ways you can go about it.

The first:

I opened the front door to a room full of tinsel and red ornaments, the tree was lit in the corner and from the kitchen came the smell of Christmas cookies.


The second:

As I opened the front door my nose was filled with the spicy sent of gingerbread mixed with fresh evergreen; my sparkle of tinsel and the vibrant red ball handing on the tree in the corner reminded me that Christmas was just around the corner.

Both ways work but with the second sentence it is easy for the reader to feel as if they are there experiencing the setting along with the narrator. It’s not always easy to be able to do this but the only way to get better is to practice.

Here are five journal prompts that stir creativity and work the writing muscle so that showing will always happen before you are tempted to tell.

  1. In no less than 100 words describe your favorite color.
  2. Think back to who your favorite person as a child was. What did they smell like?
  3. What are you wearing right now? How do you feel in it?
  4. Explain what the last thing you ate tasted like. Don’t say what it was.
  5. Go out side and find a rock. Generate fifteen words or phrases to describe that rock.


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    • inevitablesecrets profile image

      inevitablesecrets 6 years ago from California

      Thanks for the feedback. I hope the prompts jumpstart some awesome things for you. :)

    • profile image

      jasper420 6 years ago

      Very usefull info.I think every writter should read this! Well thought out. I have been going through writters block bad and I know practicing your adivce will get me out of this rut thanks!

    • inevitablesecrets profile image

      inevitablesecrets 6 years ago from California

      Thank's so much for the welcome :) Glad you enjoyed the prompts.

    • SMD2012 profile image

      Sally Hayes 6 years ago

      Welcome to HubPages! I really enjoyed this post, and like cooks who can't seem to stop collecting cookbooks, I can't stop collecting writing prompts, so thank you for your suggestions.

      Enjoy your time here; this is a really great community.