Australian writer of books for younger readers, young adults, verse novels and poetry.

Three Easy Ways to Amp up Descriptions of Place

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Describing landscapes – urban or rural – is often a challenge for new writers. How to describe the landscape you know well, whether imagined or real,  so successfully that your reader can step into it? Let’s look at three easy methods you can use to amp up your descriptions of place.

Catherine Bateson's 3 Easy Ways to Amp up Descriptions of Place

Photo by luciano_lrs

1. Be specific rather than general.

A tree-covered hill is not as evocative as a hill that shimmers with eucalyptus haze in the summer heat. Now you’ve told the reader two things about your landscape – it’s covered in eucalypts and it’s so hot the oil has become a haze.

2. Involve more than one sense in your description.

We often default to one sense – visual is as standard default position. When you involve other senses, however subtly, you make the reader enter your work more fully. If we go back to our shimmering hill we see that there’s also a suggestion of smell and touch in that description.

3. See the landscape through the eyes of a character.

Landscapes change depending on the person viewing them. Ask yourself how your character relates to the landscape – are they at home in it, alien to it, indifferent to it? From what vantage point do they see it? Why are they there? These questions will all emphasise different aspects of your landscape. If you’ve just climbed that hill in the heat, your attitude to it may be different from how you felt about it while you were still climbing! You will see different things – a chance for a picnic under the shade, perhaps.

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