4 Jul 2013

How to Describe Place Using Sensory Language of Sight: Light, Colour, Shape


Your teacher's just told you to write a description of a place you're familiar with. Now you're having nightmares. How can you describe a boring place in an interesting way?

Never fear, bag a few of these quality phrases to 'add more detail' and 'use sensory language' to create an interesting mood.

It helps if you move through the landscape - have it more from night to day, or day to night, start a storm, rain, or incredible heat - anything to add movement and interest.


Descriptions Focussing on Sight:


[1] Light
Sunlight cut the lawn into dark and brilliant, lime-green stripes.
Gold dappled the grass under the trees, patchy with moss and bare, brown earth.
Dust caught in the sunlight that slashed through the gap in the blackout blinds / velvet blinds.
Light filtered through the blinds, fine as tracing paper, silhouetted with the apple tree that tapped on the window in the middle of the night.
Soft amber lights dotted the streets, picked out at perfect intervals, casting gold down.
[2] Shade
Shadows of the sand dunes stalked us, damply down the beach.
Shadows settled in the hollows of the house / his face.
Darkness flooded the room as I pulled the thick, velvet drapes.
Blue shadows lengthened beneath the trees as dusk fell.
Dusk washed the colour from the air.
[3] Colour
The butter yellow walls were touched gold with the light that streamed in through the window.
Plum coloured silk shimmered with light.
The turquoise blue bathroom sink was chipped at the edge, chalky like an old cup.
The sea rippled like a bolt of turquoise silk thrown against the shore.
The sea was hammered lead / steel / bright and sharp as aluminium.
Blistering white sand dipped into the sea.
The thick grey paving slabs scorched my feet with every step as I hopped across the car park to fetch my flip flops.
The trees were a brilliant, new green, almost luminous.
[4] Shape
The hills rippled, broken here and there, shattered down in hunks of massive black rock, the raw face an open wound.
Softly, the land dropped away, grass rippling in the light breeze.
The fields rose and fell, dipping into folds like an unmade bed.
Houses ran back to back for miles, veering off at crazy angles into cul-de-sacs, closes, dead ends, spilling out finally into the main road that ran through town, nose to tail with silver cars, humming impatiently. In bursts, green traffic lights sent them off, draining into the suburbs.
The houses rose stubbornly square, sliced off at odd diagonals like an afterthought.
The roofs pitched steeply, sharp at the edge with dark grey slate.
The gardens carved up the space between, sometimes in neat squares, at the edges at fierce angles, like stiff bread carved with a wobbly knife.