Writing: Word Choice
Today's Snack: Make a Peanut Butter Shake. Into a
blender, put one cup of milk, one banana, peeled and sliced, and one tablespoon
of creamy peanut butter. Put the lid on tight! Blend on high power until smooth.
Pour into a glass and enjoy!
Your favorite item of
Print out this Treat, have
a piece of lined writing paper
and a pen or pencil
in on detail, and you'll give the big picture to your reader. When readers can
"see" a picture of what you are describing, they take delight in it. So it's
well worth the effort to describe things well in your writing.
know that a few choice words of good description are much better than lots and
lots of words of not-so-good description. Go for quality, not quantity.
rule is: don't overload your reader with words. Instead, make good word
choices, and do more with less!
how do you learn to choose the best descriptive words? Here are five basic categories
that words of description fit into:
What you can see: gigantic, purple, mountains
What you can hear: screech, clank, horn
What you can feel: bumpy, velvet, fluff
What you can smell: barbecue, magnolia, sewer
Emotions: joy, embarrassment, fright
may concentrate on just one of these five basics in a piece of writing, or use
all of them in combination.
you can replace just one mediocre word with just one great word, and improve
your descriptive power 100%.
times, it may take a lot of words of good description to replace one so-so
word, but even though that makes your sentence longer, it'll be worth it.
say you're describing a wall. Which does a better job of telling you what it
looks like: "a brick wall" or a "graffiti-speckled wall"? The latter
description, right? That's a more visual
description. It zeroes in and gives the reader a specific "picture" of what
that wall looked like.
let's say you're describing a playground at recess. Which is better to describe
that playground: "it was loud" or "children were having so much fun, they screamed
for joy." If you zero in on the sounds,
you can describe the scene much better.
descriptive words that focus on touch,
choose "jagged" over "rough," and "silky" over "soft." "Jagged" and "silky" are
just more precise than "rough" and "soft."
the same thing with smells:
instead of "it smelled bad," write "it smelled like dead fish." You need to
remember that the reader isn't there to smell it for himself or herself, so you
have to describe the smell exactly in order to get your point across.
human feelings, skip over "I felt
bad" or "I felt happy," and instead write, "I cried my eyes out," or "I grinned
and hugged her." Show and tell how you felt with specific vocabulary words,
don't just suggest in general, with weaker words.
Think a little more deeply to describe in more detail. Try to get action and
emotion in your word choices. Your writing will be a lot more lively and clear.
write three different phrases to describe the following. Your phrases might
describe totally different scenes. Make each phrase lively, clear and
A playground full of kids.
back over these and circle the one that is the most descriptive. What makes it
interesting and engrossing?
look at your favorite item of clothing, such as a shirt, a necklace, a jacket
or a pair of shoes. Describe this item in at least 100 words.
your five categories: visual, sound, touch, smell, human feelings.
may relate the clothing item to something in your memory, some conversation
that you had while wearing it, or some experience that you can relate it to. Or
simply describe it in specific, complete detail.
reader should know that item so well after you've described it, that the reader
might as well be WEARING IT!!!