Descriptive Writing
a writing eLecture by dave rogers


Basics of Descriptive Writing

Traditional Purposes of Writing

  1. To express (reflect and explain);
  2. To inform (educate);
  3. To entertain (impress); and
  4. To persuade (encourage to action).

Descriptive writing can accomplish any purpose.


Basics of Descriptive Writing


Descriptive Writing . . .

These basic qualites of descriptive writing will be examined in the eLecture.


Objective description:

Presents details using sensory details, as a camera would, without interpretation or bias.

It's particularly useful in Technical or Informative Writing (reports, resumes, reviews, etc.).

Subjective description:

Presents details that suggest individual feelings and sentiments.

This is preferred in Emotional or Creative Writing (letters, blogs, journals, diaries, stories, poems)

The Dominant Impression:

What the writer wishes to "impress" on the audience (purpose).

Impress: Pressure, imprint, a marked effect, a firm implant in the mind, application of electrical voltage.


The Dominant Impression is the memorable concept in the essay.

RENNS highlights the Dominant Impression.

R - Reasons.

E - Examples.

N - Names.

N - Numbers.

S - Senses.

The use of reasons, examples, names, numbers, and senses packs the writing with detail that is memorable to a reader. It lends a tone of specificity that allows the reader to picture the images.

RENNS creates Concrete, Detailed, and Significant Writing




When you fill up the reader's senses with details, she or he experiences what you write about rather than their own imagining of the situation.

Descriptive Writing should also be Clear and Concise

Develop a Pattern for the Reading Audience.

Avoid vague language and words that confuse and exclude audiences.

Equivalence Chains:

Use words with similar connotative (emotional) meanings to "nag" the audience into feeling a certain way.

Review of Descriptive Writing

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