By: Lauren Beth Kelly
No matter what type of document you’re writing, it must be made interesting for your reader through the use of descriptions. Several concepts are useful to keep in mind when writing descriptively, and these techniques can be applied universally to help make your documents more interesting. Still, there are some variations across different types of documentation that can also be taken into consideration when improving your descriptive writing.
With any form of writing, first forming a summary of a rhetorical situation can be useful. Identify the specific audience, purpose, and context for which you’re writing.
Conducting an audience analysis can also improve your descriptions. Here you identify the needs, attention, and attitude of your audience, as well as their familiarity with your topic.
Also, the use of an audience-based approach when writing descriptively can be applied to all forms of writing. By using this technique, you are simply writing from the point of view of your reader. Therefore, how your reader perceives your information or prose is key.
For example, the use of parallelism can add symmetry to your sentences, thus making them seem more related. Sentences should also vary in length, and should not be too long or too short, thus adding interest to your document.
While all of these factors are helpful when composing virtually any type of document, descriptive writing techniques can vary for certain types of prose.
Fiction vs Nonfiction
The use of a passive voice when composing a fiction document is common practice. In this case, the subject of the sentence is the target of the action. To create a sense of mystery, an author can effectively use passive voice, but it takes practice. Conversely, with an active voice, the subject is doing the action. Active voice is the preferred manner of diction for that of most nonfiction documents. For example:
Passive Voice: The entire stretch of highway was paved by the crew.
Active Voice: The crew paved the entire stretch of highway.
Technical vs Creative Writing
With technical writing documents, the use of a deductive organization to improve descriptions can be used. With this method, documents should provide a conclusion first and then identify how the conclusion is reached. Conversely, creative writing involves providing evidence and information before presenting the conclusion. This is known as an inductive organization.
Additionally, for technical writing documents, the use of a visual orientation can be applied to your writing to improve its descriptiveness. For example, incorporating the use of charts, graphs, or tables can add interest to your documents.
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