Mandy Eve-Barnett's Blog for Readers & Writers

My Book News & Advocate for the Writing Community ©

Descriptive words are a writer’s best friend…

January 26, 2013

Let me start with the thesaurus explanation of descriptive : evocative, expressive, vivid, graphic, eloquent, colorful, explanatory, illustrative. Quiet a list, which I’m sure we could expand on if we so chose. However, my point is a single word can encapsulate a mood, a feeling or a condition. Today’s desk diary offering is such a word – Clammy – definition : being damp, sticky and unusually cool.

Check out the Thesaurus' sibling, Dictionary.

Check out the Thesaurus’ sibling, Dictionary. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The word clammy conjures up an exact feeling, one we have all had at one time or another whether due to illness or a particular uncomfortable situation. Such as our first public appearance, nervously opening a response to a manuscript submission or the tell-tale light headedness prior to fainting.

This delightful word is an example of how you can capture your character’s feelings precisely. In the revision process of any piece of work, tightening up the exposition ensures the story keeps pace and large sections can be refined into their essential elements. In using words, such as clammy, our readers are instantly aware of our character’s situation without losing the impact of the narrative. In other words -using these descriptive words keep our narrative sharp.

Careful word usage is a learned skill for many and delving into our dictionary and thesaurus on a regular basis enables us to use words to their best affect. For example if we did not use clammy, we would need to describe cold but sweaty skin, light headedness, damp beads of perspiration – a lot more words for the same condition and an overly descriptive sentence or paragraph can lose our reader’s attention. We certainly don’t want that.

Use of the thesaurus on our word document screen can assist but does have it’s limits. A good dictionary & thesaurus are a good investment for any writer. There are specific thesaurus as well. For example I have an emotional thesaurus which is a great tool.


Take your time while revising any written piece to identify descriptive words that would sharpen it. They are a writer’s best friend, so use them often.


  1. I love precise words (like clammy) that conjure up a very specific idea. Thanks for sharing this!


  2. Reblogged this on Dream Write Publishing and commented:
    A publisher likes a writer who can make their work noticeable through the use of descriptive words. Don’t overdo it, though, and never lose your own voice or the mood/theme/genre/time period of the piece by trying to add words to impress.


  3. Great post and good advice to all writers!


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