How to Paint an Image With Words


Descriptive writing that figuratively "paints" a picture using words takes a natural skill and a lot of practice to do effectively. Part of painting a picture with words is describing every aspect of a scene, much like a painter would add every necessary detail, even the minute ones, to a picture. This type of colorful descriptive writing is used in all facets of the writing profession, from articles to novels to poetry. Knowing how to describe a scene or place in the most colorful and unique adjectives possible is what will make a piece of writing really stand out.

Things You'll Need

  • Thesaurus
  • Close your eyes and imagine the place; imagine being there, completely immersing yourself in the scene or place you are writing about. What do you see, hear, smell or taste? What are some small but necessary details about the place that convey its tropical, cold, depressing, exciting or frightening feeling? Experience the image and know it as well as possible before you put pen to paper or begin typing.

  • Write a first draft. Walk away from it for a set amount of time, allowing your mind to relax and think about something else. Then sit back down and re-read the scene or place you just described and see if it truly paints the image you wanted to portray. Add details, remove or add certain lines and tweak the structure of what you wrote.

  • Use a thesaurus to find the most descriptive words for the images you are describing or for the story you are telling. Certain words add a different feeling or type of description to a piece of writing. Give yourself options and choose the best one.

  • Read your revised first draft aloud to someone whose opinions you trust and respect. Or give them a copy of what you have written so that they can read it and share their personal thoughts and notes with you. Listen to their notes and see which ones you would like to incorporate into your revisions.

  • Read over the image you have described a few more times, tweaking and polishing it. Descriptive writing can literally be treated like a painting, with the best possible words bringing out the many layers of colors and textures.

Tips & Warnings

  • The more you read and revise the descriptive paragraph, the better it will become.
  • Read other examples of descriptive images in literature and great writing to get an idea of how to paint the most descriptive images with your words.

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  • Photo Credit typing #6 image by Adam Borkowski from
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