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Descriptive Writing Prompts

As I was writing this list of 10 descriptive writing prompts, one of my first thoughts was that I could probably use a few of these as an exercise myself. I'm not always the best at describing an environment in my stories, but I recognize that it's a skill I can improve upon. Many writers believe they are good at a certain skill and that they will never be able to develop other ones. Stephen King didn't start out the Stephen King you know today, masters don't become so overnight, it takes time, and I hope that these 10 descriptive writing prompts can help your fiction writing skills. 

Descriptive Writing Prompts

1. The childhood home you've come to know and love has burned to the ground. Describe how the current image plays against your memories. How do certain aspects of the scene make you feel?

2. Look around your current room and describe in detail how it looks. Now imagine how the room will look like in five years whether or not you still live there and describe it once again. Try the exercise again after 10, 20 and 50 years.

3. Pick a person in your life that you think about the most and describe him or her from head to toe dressed in typical garb. Now pick the person you think about the least in your life, such as an old acquaintance or an employee at a shop you frequent and do the same. Try to match the same strong level of detail in both instances.

4. Describe one of the most visceral memories of your life, such as the birth of a child, a wedding, a funeral or something else that comes with a great deal of resonance.

5. You have been hired as a private investigator for a murder investigation that the police can't figure out for the life of them. You must visit the crime scene and describe every clue with such detail until you can determine who the murderer might be. Who is the killer and why?

6. In a sort of out of body experience, a metaphysical part of you floats to the top of the room and looks down on you. Use this perspective to describe yourself both internally and externally.

7. You have been chosen to judge a beauty contest and you have been given the final deciding vote to determine the winner. Describe the remaining contestants and explain why you think one of them deserves to win.

8. You are a fly on the wall in one of the largest and most beautiful cathedrals in the world during an intense religious ceremony. Describe the room, the people and the ceremony in complete detail.

9. In a strange twist of fate in the way the world works, every person on earth has been changed to have outward appearance reflect what they have on the inside. The mean-spirited have turned ugly and the kind have become knockouts. In this new world order, describe 10 people you know and how their appearances have been altered.

10. You have been given the innate ability to manually alter the appearance of men and women in the way a graphic designer might use a program like Photoshop, except these changes take place in the real world. You are able to make these changes permanent and the demand is through the roof. What will you do with this ability, who are some of your first clients and what do you do with them? 

These descriptive writing prompts are meant to give you a chance to look at the world a bit differently than moral. If you aren't used to describing things in your world, start using your five senses as often as you can to make the skill more a part of your repertoire. For more prompts to help with description take a look at my books, 1,000 Creative Writing Promptsand 500 Writing Prompts for Kids

Done with Descriptive Writing Prompts? Go back to Creative Writing Prompts.

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Written by Bryan Cohen

Bryan Cohen is the author of more than 30 books, many of which focus on creative writing and blasting through that pesky writer's block. His books have sold more than 20,000 copies. You can find him on and Facebook.

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