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Think about the last time you ate a delicious meal. When you close your eyes, can you see what the meal looked like? Can you recreate the smell of the food? Maybe you are replaying the conversations you had with your friends as you ate. Being able to recreate the experience makes it more special and memorable.

Now think about writing an essay or short story (that took a turn, didn’t it?). Is the last essay that you wrote memorable? Did you give your reader something interesting to read? Was it dry?

Descriptive text is the salt and pepper to our writing. It takes boring blocks of text and makes it more attractive for the reader to enjoy. Using descriptive text will help your reader remember what you wrote. It creates an emotional response to what is on the page.

In short, writing with descriptive text can have as much of an impact as a delicious meal.

Descriptive Text Definition

When considering how to add descriptive text to your writing, it is essential first to consider the five senses. This works exceptionally well for fiction writing. Short stories, poetry, and literature should include descriptive text to engage readers.

By using sight, sound, taste, touch, and smells to create imagery, readers are transported to your story.

A much more technical definition of descriptive text is to use verbs, adverbs, and adjectives to increase the readability of your writing (did that sentence just put you to sleep too?).

Here’s a quick review if you haven’t talked about parts of speech recently:

Verbs:

Jump, run, scream, laugh, dance, and hop, are all verbs. When you add these action words to your text, you are more clearly painting a picture for your reader.

Verbs are your action words in your text. A popular exercise PSA in the 90’s was, “ 
 “. This is a very basic (and accurate) definition of this part of speech!

When considering if you are using a verb in your writing, just ask if it’s describing an action.

Adverbs:

Adverbs modify verbs so that verbs are more functional in your writing. Instead of quick (verb), you could use quickly (adverb).

Adverbs will improve the movement of your writing and make the imagery more vivid to your reader. Also, using adverbs will help with keeping your writing clear.

Adjectives:

These parts of speech describe your nouns. It can include color, feelings, and anything else that describes a person, place, or thing. For example,

“The balloon went into the sky.”

isn’t nearly as exciting as,

“The red balloon detached from the child’s sticky hand and soared towards the fluffy white clouds”.

All of the underlined words represent the addition of an adjective into the sentence to increase imagery.

Adjectives are an easy way to improve the descriptive text in your writing. While you are writing, close your eyes and consider precisely what you are trying to write about. What color is the hair of your main character? How does it feel when you run your hands through it? Do their eyes look happy? Sad? Confused?

When you add these details to your writing, your reader is more likely to understand what you are trying to deliver.

Important Note About Descriptive Text

Before adding descriptive text to your writing, make sure you understand the definition! Resources like a thesaurus are super helpful, but picking a word from a list of synonyms without knowing the meaning can prove to be a mistake.

If you are unclear on the definition of a new word you’re trying to add to your writing, take the time to look up the meaning. By reading examples of the word in a sentence, you will be able to understand if the term will fit in your writing.

Taking this extra step will help avoid any glaring mistakes in your writing.

Why is Descriptive Text Important?

Have you ever read something on social media, but because of the quality of the writing, had no idea what the intended meaning was?

Becoming a strong writer, while necessary for education, is a skill that you will use far beyond high school. Being able to figure out your “point” (aka the thesis) and defend your views is a skill that takes time to improve.

For high school students, using descriptive text and being a strong writer is a crucial skill for performing well on high stakes exams like the  
 . The ACT expects that students have a decent understanding of how to express themselves adequately, and descriptive writing is a key factor in being a strong writer.

For students who struggle with writing, this can be kind of intimidating. This is why ArgoPrep has created additional support for students seeking to improve their writing.

Did you know that ArgoPrep has over 45 teachers who have developed its award-winning curriculum? These teachers, passionate about student success, have taken their field experience and applied it to everyday struggles and complaints. This curriculum delivers highly effective support for all students.

ArgoPrep has recently released a comprehensive K-8 test prep platform to help students reach and exceed their academic goals!

Descriptive Text Writing Process

After you have drafted your writing, have a teacher or trusted friend edit your work. Having an additional set of eyes on your work can expose many of the holes and mistakes.

If your assignment has a rubric or grading sheet, use that as an “answer key” to make sure that you satisfy the assignment expectations.

The next important step in writing is to take the criticism and edits and to edit your essay. Fix any necessary errors, clarify any confusion, before submitting it for grading.

Examples of Descriptive Text in Literature

Here are a few examples of descriptive text in literature:

“I am,” he said. He was staring at me, and I could see the corners of his eyes crinkling. “I’m in love with you, and I’m not in the business of denying myself the simple pleasure of saying true things. I’m in love with you, and I know that love is just a shout into the void, and that oblivion is inevitable, and that we’re all doomed and that there will come a day when all our labor has been returned to dust, and I know the sun will swallow the only earth we’ll ever have, and I am in love with you.”
― John Green, 

“But nothing sent chills up and down Thomas’s spine like the haunted, deathly moans that somehow escaped the creature when it sat still, like the sound of dying men on a battlefield.”

-James Dashner,  

Examples of Descriptive Text in Pop Culture

“I’m running out of time
‘Cause I can see the sun light up the sky
So I hit the road in overdrive, baby

Oh, the city’s cold and empty (oh)
No one’s around to judge me (oh)
I can’t see clearly when you’re gone

I said, ooh, I’m blinded by the lights
No, I can’t sleep…”

-Blinding Lights, The Weeknd
“Flipping through all of these magazines
Telling me who I’m supposed to be
Way too good at camouflage
Can’t see what I am
I just see what I’m not
I’m guilty ’bout everything that I eat
(Every single thing)
Feeling myself is a felony
Jedi level sabotage
Voices in my head make up my entourage
‘Cause I’m a black belt when I’m beating up on myself
But I’m an expert at giving love to somebody else.”
“I Love Me”, Demi Lovato

Descriptive Text in Academic Writing

I know what you’re thinking: “Descriptive text sounds great for books, but I have a 5-paragraph essay about the history of the rainforest due next week, and I can’t make that interesting”.

It’s true, adding descriptive text to academic writing can be harder. It’s not impossible, but it will take some more effort.

Many teachers and professors won’t allow you to use the first-person narrative (“I think”, “In my opinion”, etc.). This means that academic essays to lend itself to the storytelling aspect that descriptive text creates.

When writing academic essays considering varying your word choice to improve interest.

Conclusion

Becoming a strong writer takes time and practice, but it also requires some intentional work in learning skills. Descriptive text is one of those crucial skills.

When you learn how to use descriptive text in your writing, you will be able to engage your readers more effectively.

High stakes writing exams, like the  
 , are looking to see that students have mastered these skills. If you are trying to improve your scores on these types of tests, take the time to practice your writing.

If you are trying to become a stronger fiction writer, get into the habit of using the five senses to develop your writing. By pausing and thinking clearly about what image you are trying to create, you will be able to create a more vivid scene for your writers.

Whatever your writer goals, a comfortable understanding of descriptive text will help you, with consistent practice, edits, and resources like ArgoPrep, your writing will become more clear and understood by your readers!

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