For the next few months, weekly writing tips will include word choice suggestions. That includes:
- colorful and original descriptions
- pithy words and phrases
- picture nouns and action verbs
- writing that draws a reader in and addicts them to your voice
I keep a collection of descriptions that have pulled me into the books. I’m fascinated how authors can–in just a few words–put me in the middle of their story and make me want to stay there. This one’s on how to describe work buildings.
A note: These are for inspiration only. They can’t be copied because they’ve been pulled directly from an author’s copyrighted manuscript (intellectual property is immediately copyrighted when published).
- My office looks like IKEA threw up in it . . . except for my black Kathy Ireland computer armoire which houses stacks of paper and office supplies and a bunch of real estate contracts I haven’t filed yet. I have a brown-black IKEA corner desk with metal legs, a high-back leather chair, and a laser and ink jet printer on IKEA tables on the opposite wall. I have brown-black IKEA corner book shelves – one shelf has literature and the other side has textbooks from grad school and my degrees which are collecting lots of dust. I have a view of my deck and the woods in my back yard where deer and rabbits frequently romp. I can also see my crazy neighbor in his thermal underwear while he’s letting the dogs out. It’s not pretty…can’t wait until the leaves come in.
- When you enter my office there is a dark walnut bookcase lining the entire left-hand wall. There is a leather sofa with a fur rug over the back and an Indian blanket draped over the arm. The far wall has a large fireplace and mantle dominating the center, with bookshelves lining it on either side. On the mantle, I have two antique clocks and a painting of three jazz musicians. There is a television on the shelf to the right, but I only use it for XM radio. In front of that shelf is an upright piano and bench in dark walnut. Hanging on the wall above the piano is an abstract painting of jazz musicians. There is a double door between my desk and the piano which leads out to the patio. The view through the door panes is a southern pine forest. This side of the door is my desk. It is a large walnut piece — rather imposing, with glass over the top. Think early 1900s. My chair is Captain style on wheels with leather seat and back. To the left behind me is another bookshelf atop a matching file cabinet. The ceiling fan keeps the air moving in an otherwise enclosed space.
- If you leaned way back in the chair and cranked your neck hard over, you could see the sky from my office window, delft-blue and cloudless and so bright it looked solid.
- Inside, the office was small and cold. Four cubicles shared an empty common area. The carpet was sea green. There was one window, vertical, narrow and fortified with chicken wire.
- The office was cluttered with the detritus of scholarship. There were books piled everywhere, and manila folders on the top of a long mission oak table under the windows. A Macintosh word processor sat on a corner of her desk, hooked to a laser printer on a small end table beside her.
- Surveyed the office: big messy desk, file cabinets, an old wooden wardrobe, a poster on one wall, a gruesome photographic blowup of a man’s face beside it.
- A hive of activity
- Cracking the door allowed me to squeeze into the room. eight by eight, with a lav half that size; all the charm of an MRI chamber
- Knew what I would find inside—faded curtains, a limp buffet for breakfast, and a pair of potted palms clinging to life
Desk and Stuff
- As he talked, he straightened the stuff on his desk, making sure everything was square and properly spaced. There wasn’t much: a phone, a legal-sized lined yellow pad, a translucent Bic pen with a black top, and a big plastic cube with pictures of his wife, his children and a golden retriever.
- Lovely mahogany desk
- The brick and asphalt and neon were blurred by distance and sunshine and beneath it, I got a sense of the land as it once must have been
- The town seemed to pulse with life and excitement
- The building was empty for the night and the occasional faraway drone and jolt of the elevator only added energy to the silence.
- A short, squat tower topped by a wide, gently sloping octagonal roof
- Glass-and-concrete shopping arcade where the boutique sat uneasily between a butcher’s and a shoe shop.
- Nothing fancy about the building. It was simply a solid construction, a bit like the man it served.
Click for the complete list of 69 writer’s themed descriptions.
19 Ways to Describe People
7 Fascinating Character Ticks
10 Ways to Describe Furnishings
Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy, and the thriller, To Hunt a Sub. She is also the author/editor of over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, adjunct professor of technology in education, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, a columnist for TeachHUB, monthly contributor to Today’s Author and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. You can find her books at her publisher’s website, Structured Learning.