Descriptive Language


What language techniques should I use to make my writing more engaging?

3 years ago


79 Replies




Oma O'reilly

79 Answers

Claire D Profile Picture
Claire D Verified Sherpa Tutor ✓

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It depends on the type of writing. If it is creative writing eg writing prose - then you should try to use some sensory imagery, and language techniques including simile, metaphor, alliteration, sibilance, assonance etc.

If you were writing an argumentative/discursive essay then you might use rhetorical questions, Triads (power of three), second person, structural techniques.

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Carla Profile Picture
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To make your writing more engaging, use adjectives and adverbs eg "He walked away casually". Use similes, eg "He is acting like a fool," and metaphors, eg "That girl is a star".

Most importantly, appeal to the readers' senses:

What does it look like?

                      feel like?

                      sound like?

                      smell like?

                      taste like?

Take a aerial view of the subject. Chances are it would look completely different from close up.

If size is an issue give your subject dominant/protective/intimidated characteristics

If noise is important give the subject human voice sounds or compare it to a loud/quiet sound

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Blathnaid O'hagan

Similes and metaphors are very useful to make your writing more colourful and engaging. For examples, "She was as beautiful as a flower."

Sensory descriptions help the reader to imagine exactly what you are describing and make your writing engaging and interesting. When you write, try to think of the senses and how the character is thinking/ feeling and add these to your work!

Vashti Gbolagun Suwa

Conversational approach will be great

Zhanetta Rodgers

Classic most of all or just try to typing letter by letter to excel

Sonal P

Hi Oma,

Here are a few suggestions to make your writing more engaging:

  • make it original;
  • make it YOUR voice
  • use your imagination (fiction)
  • share your life lessons, life stories and personal experience (non-fiction)

And to convey the above in a way that interests and captivates your reader, use literary devices such as

  • Descriptive vocabulary:

  • verbs (strolling, dashing, dodging instead of just ‘walking’)
  • adverbs (leisurely walking, pleasantly talking, e enthusiastically dancing, melodiously singing)
  • adjectives (tremendous strength, persistent patience, incredible adventure, worrying news, helpful gesture
  • noun phrases = adjective + adjective + noun + with e.g. He/she spoke kind, caring words with empathy for my challenges.

Other literary devices:

  • metaphor: I entered as an alien into this new country on my travels but the local people made me feel so at home, as they introduced me to their fascinating culture, ancient tradition rooted in wisdom, delicious food, and colourful clothes and customs.
  • similes: He/she was like the sun, speaking and spreading love and light wherever he/she went.
  • personification: the sofa gave me a warm hug as as snuggled to sleep in it
  • alliteration: Wonderful warm weather! Here comes summer!
  • imagery: The nail went into his foot and sent a shooting, searing pain up his leg, like a lightning bolt.
  • onomatopoeia: The waves of the sea whooshed playfully under the glistening sun as I strolled along the pebble-stone beach.
  • rule of 3: I want to live life to the max, filled with PURPOSE, PLEASURE, PASSION!

The is more I could share but that would require a lesson, reciprocal conversation, discussion and opportunities for questions and answers !

Hope this helps and give you a flavour of what you can do to jazz up your writing Oma.

Feel free to reach out for further help or if you have a question!

Wishing you the best with your academic progress and personal development for a bright future ahead!



facts/figures and Rehtorical questions

Zayna Ameer

At GCSE level, to make your work stands out it is important to focus on both language and structure in your answer to truly engage the examiner. This would involve using language techniques such as similes, personification, alliteration, pathetic fallacy, motifs, onomatopoeia; including a number of these things will show your ability to write with confidence. Whilst structure, such as paragraphing (rhyming couplets if poetry), having a clear opening (to engage the reader), a clear order of events, dialogue, also adds a lot of character to your writing. By aiming to use focus on language and structure side by side, you are likely to impress your reader.

Mary A Profile Picture
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You can use a range of language techniques. For example, short, sharp sentences should be used to create impact, where as longer sentences give you the opportunity to be more descriptive in your writing. Always use strong adjectives and adverbs to support your nouns - 'a hallway' could become 'a dark, damp, gloomy hallway', which is much more interesting and brings the setting to life. Using alliteration also creates impact and in some cases, a sense of rhythm which can make your writing more enjoyable for the reader. Use repetition if something is important and you want to to be noticed. Even punctuation can help! The use of ellipsis for example, can create an air of mystery or suspense 'Then, suddenly, the phone line went silent...' Don't forget similes and metaphors in your writing. These can really give you the opportunity to get create with your sentences. Hope this helps!

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Tara-Jayne M Profile Picture
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Metaphors can be used to make your writing more engaging.

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Rosie Profile Picture
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I'm Rosie and I would love to use my expertise and passion to help.

There are numerous English language techniques that can be used to make writing more engaging. Here are some techniques to consider:

1. Imagery: Use descriptive language that appeals to the senses to bring your writing to life. Create vivid images in the reader's mind.

Example: "The crimson sun slowly dipped below the horizon, casting a golden glow on the tranquil, azure waters."

2. Metaphors and similes: Use comparisons to make your writing more relatable and memorable. Metaphors directly equate two unrelated things, while similes use "like" or "as" to make comparisons.

Example: "Her laughter was like a melody that filled the room."

3. Dialogue: Incorporate conversations between characters to add authenticity and create a sense of interaction.

Example: "‘I can't believe you did that!’ she exclaimed, throwing her hands up in the air."

4. Personal pronouns: Use inclusive pronouns like "we" and "you" to directly address the reader, making them feel involved and connected.

Example: "Have you ever experienced the thrill of conquering a challenge?"

5. Rhetorical questions: Engage readers by posing thought-provoking questions that make them pause and reflect.

Example: "Can we truly understand the depth of human emotion?"

6. Repetition: Repeat certain words, phrases, or ideas to create emphasis and reinforce a point.

Example: "Hope. It was all she had, all she could cling on to in her darkest moments."

7. Varied sentence structure: Mix up sentence lengths and structures to provide rhythm and prevent monotony.

Example: "Short and succinct. Long and flowing. Each sentence adding its unique touch to the overall tapestry of the narrative."

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Esther Stevenson

In order to make your writing more engaging, there are a number of techniques which you can use. If you are writing a creative, descriptive piece, then consider using sensory language in order to make your writing much more vivid for the reader. Describing what is seen/the smells/sounds etc makes your writing effective and engaging, especially if coupled with Show Don't Tell. You can also use figurative techniques, such as similes, metaphors and onomatopoeia. Sentence structure is also important, depending upon the mood you are trying to create. For example, should you be trying to build tension, a series of short simple sentences may be effective; .if aiming for a slow pace, then complex sentences and words with long vowels can mirror that. Another favourite of mine is the use of pathetic fallacy, especially if I am using wild and stormy weather conditions when writing a Gothic piece, for example.

Similarly, if writing discursively then you need to be aware of different techniques which are applicable to persuasive/argumentative writing. For example, when writing persuasively you must consider using rhetorical features of language such as rhetorical questions, repetition, rule of three, alliteration, onomatopoeia, facts, stats and emotive language. Discourse markers are also important when linking points or arguments, and topic sentences are important to indicate to your audience what the following paragraph(s) is going to be about.

I hope that helps!


Hello Oma,

I hope that this message finds you well.

When making your writing more engaging, you can use a variety of language techniques. Here are some to consider:

  • Imagery: Use descriptive language that appeals to the senses (sight, sound, taste, touch, smell) to create vivid mental images for your readers.

  • Similes and metaphors: Compare two different things to make your writing more colourful and descriptive. Similes use "like" or "as" (e.g., "as brave as a lion"), while metaphors directly equate one thing to another (e.g., "the world is a stage").

  • Personification: Give human qualities to non-human objects or abstract ideas to make your writing more lively and imaginative.

  • Repetition: Repeat words, phrases, or sentence structures for emphasis and rhythm, creating a memorable effect.

  • Alliteration: Repeat consonant sounds at the beginning of words in close proximity to create a rhythmic and musical effect (e.g., "peter piper picked a peck of pickled peppers").

  • Onomatopoeia: Use words that imitate the sounds they describe, adding a sensory dimension to your writing (e.g., "buzz," "crash," "whisper").

  • Hyperbole: Exaggerate or overstate something for emphasis or comic effect, adding drama and impact to your writing.

  • Irony: Use language to convey a meaning that is the opposite of what is expected, often for humorous or satirical effect.

  • Dialogue: Include realistic and engaging dialogue between characters to bring your writing to life and reveal character traits and relationships.

  • Sensory language: Use descriptive words and phrases that evoke sensory experiences to immerse your readers in the scene and create a more vivid and engaging reading experience.

By incorporating these language techniques into your writing, you can make it more dynamic, memorable, and engaging for your readers.

I hope that you find this answer helpful! :-)

Helen S Profile Picture
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To make your language more engaging, try to draw your readers into the scene. Although it may seem counterintuitive, this is not by long passages of description using adverbs and adjectives.. Rather, it is by using appropriate verbs, a variety of nouns, and where necessary, adjectives. Adverbs have their place, but shouldn't be used in every sentence. Advice to authors who are trying to get published (and it's a good idea to aim high!) is to use around one adverb every three or four paragraphs, maximum. This is because, the adverbs slow down the action, and actually can detract from what you are saying. If there isn't action in your piece but it is just a description, using more imaginative verbs, nouns and adjectives still makes for a more engaging and interesting piece. Let's give some examples.

The sun shone brilliantly on the elegant little town of Bashville, nestled comfortingly in the hollow of a hill. The warmly inviting buildings boasted many delights inside, meals cooked lovingly, baths run maternally, rooms displayed decoratively and intruiguingly in pink and green.

OK. While this passage may at first glance look interesting and well written, let's try to make it a little more engaging.

Bashville. A hamlet stowed like a bird's egg in the nest of a hill. The buildings look so inviting, they could just as well have their doors flung open to welcome you. Take a peek inside. You will see home cooked meals prepared by flour-covered mothers, steaming hot baths waiting for children's muddy bodies at the end of a play-filled day, rooms which becken you with walls patterned in pink and green, with a mish-mash of matching furniture to compliment.

The second passage is longer, but draws you more into the picture. We have replaced many of the adverbs with more appropriate verbs.

A simple way to do this is this easy exercise.

Try to find a way to say these sentences using a verb instead of a verb and adverb and a description:


The man walked slowly and confusedly across the road.

The man stumbled across the road.

Your turn

The man walked across the road without a care in the world.

The woman turned around swiftly.

The dog lashed out aggressively.

Bob was absolutely useless at Maths.

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Kirsty H Profile Picture
Kirsty H Verified Sherpa Tutor ✓

English Language and Literature KS3, GCSE and A Level

Good evening Oma,

This could also depend on which type of writing you are accessing. If it is transactional and persuasive, you may want to us writing techniques such as AFFORREST (anecdotes, facts, figures, opinions, repetition, rhetorical questions, emotive language, statistics, triplication.) Make sure that you have checked who your audience will be and which text type you are writing as then you will need to check that your persuasive language device choice is the most effective.

For creative writing, this depends on if you are writing a description or narrative. For descriptions, I recommend always thinking about the reader and which image you would like to create in their mind. Colour imagery, figurative language and effective verb, adverb and adjective choices will all help to create a very clear image for your reader.

If you are writing a narrative, you may need to write a plan first that incorporates your writing techniques. For example, you may want to start with a flashback or end with a cliffhanger. I also believe characterisation to be essential for narrative writing (this usually appears in exam mark schemes!) I recommend building interesting characteristics and a background story into your character. My particular favourite when writing a story is to try to leave clues and end with a twist. Never leave a reader feeling unsatisfied with an ending. Your job as a narrative writer is to keep the reader engaged.

I hope that this was helpful! Please let me know if you need anything else!

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