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What is a literary description?

A literary description is a text that explains the features of something. A description uses language that helps the readers or listeners to form images in their minds about the thing being described. Descriptions may be of:

  • physical things
  • cultural events
  • natural things.

A descriptive piece of writing aims to show, not tell, the reader about the subject or experience being described. Descriptions rely on sensory details: what something looks like, what it sounds like, what it feels like, and what it smells or tastes like. A description can be used to set the tone (mood) of a story.

Examples of a literary description

Descriptions can be of people, animals, things, nature, the surrounding environment, or just about anything. A literary description can be any length. Examples of where descriptions might be found include:

  • picture books
  • short stories and novels
  • advertisements and brochures
  • songs and poems.

Structure of a literary description

A description can be part of another text type, or it can be a piece by itself. A literary description should follow a basic structure.

A literary description should begin with a title or heading. This will say what it is about, such as tigers.

The introduction will include the introductory statement. This statement is used to introduce the topic, such as tigers, to the audience, and to possibly provide some background information.

The body of the text is the actual description. This body of the literary description is broken up into different paragraphs based on different parts of the main topic. One paragraph may describe the size and shape of the tiger, another may describe the tiger's physical features, and others may describe the environment in which tigers live.

The conclusion is used to sum up the information given in the description.

Preparing your own description

When preparing your own literary description it is important to have a designated topic. This can be anything from tigers, rainforests, or a rugby game, to a brother or sister. Descriptive writing relies upon sensory descriptions and imagery. The goal of this text is to paint a picture in the reader's mind.

Descriptive writing focuses on using adjectives, verbs and adverbs that help make the topic more real.  Figurative language is used to make the topic come alive. Use comparisons, similes and metaphors in your writing and use personification to make non-living things seem alive.

Always check your text for correct spelling, grammar and punctuation.


















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