Description is a genre of writing which is applied to describe a person, place, object, event, experience, feeling etc. Description is a translation of perceptions into words and a bridge connecting human life and their surroundings to the art of literature. In writing, description is always used to inform, illustrate , make certain explainations, present an opinion or argument, make comparisons or contrasts, persuade, etc.

  1. Definition
  2. Overview
  3. Descriptive organization
  4. Two basic types of description
  5. Two major technique of description
  6. Contents
6.1 Description of persons
6.1.1 Physical features
6.1.2 Mental characteristics
6.1.3 Social characteristics
6.2 Description of environment
6.2.1 Natural environment
6.3 Description of event
A successful description may bring a writing vivid to life and draw readers into the scene or story in the writing with their senses and emotions involved in. Just as an artist paints a picture, a writer paints a verbal picture through description. To form a general picture of the writing in one's mind, brainstorming before writing and making a compiling descriptive lists may be helpful. In order to make a cogent writing, the description is better to be organized in a logical and coherent way. Besides this, writers need to pay attention to the clearness and conciseness in his choices of words. This means that words are chosencarefully, particularly for their relevancy in relation to that which you are intending to describe[1]. According to different purpose of writing, description could be objective or subjective. Unlike other genres of writing, description could funtion as a camera, which could recreate the scene or situation for readers. This genre allows for a great deal of artistic freedom (the goal of which is to paint an image that is vivid and moving in the mind of the reader)[2]. A writer may embellish his writing with vivid language,figurative comparisons and appeal to the senses of readers. The contents of description are very diverse, covering physical existence, metal activities, events etc.

Descriptive organization
Before one start writing, he need to have a general picture of what he is going to write and what effect or impression of his descriptions is aimed to bring about. This general picture will determine how he organizes his writing. Descriptive organization should focus on making a unified, dominant impression on readers.

A writer may organize the information in his descriptive writing as follows:
  • order of time(unfolding details of what one is going to say in sequence )
  • order of space(presenting the environment or circumstances in a specific way)
  • order of importance(highlighting what is important )

Two basic types of description: objective and subjective

  • In an objective description, writers present a factual account of an object's physical existence by unemotional rhetoric. This kind of description takes aim at recreating the object in words.
  • In a subjective description, writers put their feelings, memories, and personal experiences in words to leave a clear impression on readers .

Two major techniques of description

  • Sensory details——sight, hearing, touch, smell, and taste
  • Figurative comparisons——comparisons through similar events and some possible exaggerations


Description in writing can be divided into three parts: description of personsdescription of environment, and description of events.
  • Description of persons involves physical features, mental characteristics, social characteristics, etc.
  • Description of environment includes many aspects, such as natural and artificial environment, substances, objects etc.
  • Description of events covers accidents, disasters, historical and cultural memorabilia of human etc.

.jpgDescription of persons

01.jpgPhysical features

In literature, physical features play very important roles in highlighting characters' personality. In a broad sense, physical features refer to appearance, gestures,expressions, movements, manners, physiological phenomenon, trappings etc. In a narrow sense, physical features refers to detailed description of appearance, gestures, trappings etc.

  • Appearance——Parts of the Human Bodyexternal image AllTheKingsMen.jpg

It comes in, trailing behind Alex Michel, who is, or was before the piano player got him, six-feet-two of beautifully articulated bone and gristle with a hard, bony, baked-looking face and two little quick brown eyes which don't belong above that classic torso and in that face and which keep fidgeting around like a brace of Mexican Jumping beans.

  • Movements

With their bare feet moving in step, the line of women walked and sang three times around every farmer's field as he moved along each row, punching a hole in the earthevery few inches with his big toe. Into each hoe a women dropped a seed, covered it over with her own big toe, and then moved on[4].

  • Physiological Phenomenon

Martin was not used to sickness, and when Maria and her little girl left him, he essayed to get up and dress. By a supreme exertion of will, with reeling brain and eyes that ached so that he could not keep them open, he managed to get out of bed, only to be left stranded by his senses upon the table. Half an hour later he managed to regain the bed where he was content to lie with closed eyes and analyze his various pains and weakness[5].
01.jpgMental characteristics

Mental characteristics are the traits of a person's mental activities, which incorporate the psychological process such as feeling, realization, emotion, will and so on.

  • Feelings

They who know what it is to have a reprieve brought to them upon the ladder or to be rescued from thieves just going to murder them, or who have been in such like extremities, may guess what my present surprise of joy was, and how gladly I put my boat into the stream of this eddy, and the wind also freshening, how gladly I spread my sail to it, running cheerfully before the wind, with a strong tide or eddy under foot[6].
  • Emotional Expressions

She was sobbing and choking——it was as it there were too many sounds for one throat, they came chasing each other, like waves upon the sea. Then her voice would begin to rise into screams, louder and louder until it broke in wild, horrible peals of laughter[7].

01.jpgSocial characteristics

Social characteristics are attributes of human which are related to human society, including social life and social relationships between human.

  • Life

There was an opening celebration, when the whole school and parents assembled in the beautiful auditorium and the board of education made speeches and the high school band wrote its new uniform. A brilliant silk stars and stripes with gold fringes was unfurlen, we recited the Salute to the flag and the band played My Country Tis of Tree[8].

.jpgDescription of environment

Description of environment covers myriad phenomena of the universe. Whatever one sees or imagines could be included in it. It can be divided as following:
  • microscopical environment and microcosmic environment in terms of quantity
  • natural environment and artificial environment in terms of formation
  • tangible environment and imaginary environment in terms of existence
  • dynamic environment and static environment in terms of change etc.
01.jpgNatural environment


The Sun——The sun, on account of the mist, had a curious sentinent, personal look, demanding the masculine pronoun for its adequate expression. His present aspect, coupled with the lack of all humnan forms in the scene, explained the old-time heliolatries in a moment. One could feel that a saner religion had never prevailed under the sky.The luminary was a golden-haired, beaming, miled-eyed, God-like creature, gazing down in the vigour and intentness of youth upon an earth that was brimming with interest for him[9].


Damp Spring Air——All the lower air was full of the damp haze rising from heavy soaking water on the earth, mingled with a warm and pleasant smell from the blue smoke of the spring fires in all the open fields[10].

The Dry Laugh of the Wind——The wind started a laughter in the fallen dead leaves, stirred them round ans round senselessly in a mocking mimicry o fbeing alive, beat its mocking laughter through the trees up over the sky[11].

The Seasons

With the Advent of Spring——With spring the leaden skies broke, the wind lightened, the rains softened, and the eagles and the robins returned to the village. High in the skyways wild geese called exultantly on their first early passages back from the south, the wise old crow cawed over the river, his wings flapping loosely and slowly, and the sleek black raven, who stayed all year, nested in the tall alders.With spring the first buds began to smell, and the fresh green needles of the spruce. The bracken and the fern reached out the tips of tender fronds, the devil's club put out small new leaves for the deer to nibble, and the bears emerged from their dens, thin, blinking in the light[12].
.jpgDescription of events

Description of events are something(especially something important and notable ) that happens[13].


  • Accidents and Disasters

The dry season lingered. On the northern Range green turned to sullen brown. Dry wind fluttered in the wind, falling on the laws in the city park, scurrying on the sidewalks, spinning spiral in circular breezes and dropping in the drains. Children try to catch yellow leaves before they touched the ground, for luck. The sun blazed in the sky as if rain had never fallen

  • Politics

Off the short way he saw two regiments fighting a little separate battle with two other regiments. It was a clear space, wearing a set-apart look. They were blazing as if upon a wager, giving taking tremendous blows. The firings were incredibly obvious of all larger purpose of war, and were slugging each other as if at a matched game[15].

[3]Warren,Robert.All the King's Men.San Diago:Harcout, Brace & Company.1946.Chap.1.
[4]Haley,Alex.Roots.New York:Doubleday.1976.Chap.3.
[5]London,Jack.Martin Eden.London:Macmillan Publisher.1909.Chap.26.
[6]Defoe,Daniel.Robinson Crusoe.England:W.Tailor Publiser.1719.P12.
[7]Sinclair, Upton.The Jungle.New York:Doubleday,Jabber &Company.1906.P15.
[8]Morley,Christopher.Kitty Foyle.Philadelphia:Lippincott Publiton.1939.P6.
[9]Hardy,Thomas.Tess of the DUrbervilles.Beijing: Centrel Composition &Traslation Press.2008.P120.
[10]Stein,Gertue.The Good Anna,Part 2,in Three Lives.
[11]Osen,Tillie. Yonnondio From the Thirties,Four
[12]Craven, Margaret .I Heard the Owl Call My Name, Part 2,11.
[14]Selvon,Samuel.A Brighter Sun.New York:Viking Adult.1953.Chap.11
[15]Crane,Stephen.The Red Badge of Courage.Chap.13