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Describing things in detail

The thief got in his car and drove away.

This sentence tells a story, but not in a very interesting way. We don’t really know much about the thief, or the car, or how he drove away, or how he got into his car. It’s a very general description of an event. The vision a reader might get in their head from this sentence would be fairly basic:

Describing things in detail

You can make your writing much more interesting by describing the things and actions in more detail. So for nouns, you can add adjectives to more closely describe what the nouns are. For verbs, you can add adverbs to more accurately portray the actions for the reader’s benefit.

The hooded thief dived in through the window of his car and screeched loudly away from the bank.

By adding a few adjectives and adverbs we’ve made the sentence much richer. In the original sentence, all the reader had to go on was that the person was a thief. What image would the reader form in their head when told about just a ‘thief’? It's much better if they are told it was a hooded thief. Now they’ve got an image of a thief with a hood over their head, obscuring their face from identification.

In the original sentence, we’re told that the thief has just got into his car. Doesn’t give the reader much to go on - did the thief walk to the car, open the door, get in and close the door? Did he enter the car through the boot of the car? The words give no details, so it’s up to the reader to conjure up something themselves. However, in the new sentence, the driver dives in through the window of his car. This immediately (for me, anyway) conjures up an image of a thief running towards the car and diving in through an open window into the driver’s seat.

The last bit of the original sentence says that the thief just ‘drove away’. No information for the reader about how he drove away. In the new sentence, however, we are told that the thief ‘screeched loudly away from the bank’. This gives the reader plenty of things to visualise in their head - the car is obviously travelling at speed and being thrown around a bit to make it screech. Also, we can see that it’s travelling away from the bank, so we now have a bank building in the picture as well.

The reader might get a sequence of images something like this one in their head reading this new sentence:

Describing things in detail

The hooded thief

Describing things in detail

dived in through the window of his car

Describing things in detail

and screeched loudly away from the bank.

Just make sure you don’t go overboard with description. To massacre a star wars line, down that path lies the dark side!

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