You have been assigned an article to write. You have a subject, a keyword or phrase to use and insert a specific number of times and, of course, a word-count. Your work is expected to be grammatically correct and contain no spelling errors. The material covered is to be factual and well researched. You can meet each of these goals and expectations and still turn out a poorly written article. It might pass programs designed to detect plagiarism, but it will still read like the ingredients on a box of cereal. Unless you make the material real, give it visual and sensual depth and life, it is just words. Who wants to read random words strung together? What you need to flesh out the article is a smattering of good descriptive words and phrases.
Suppose you are writing a travel article. You can tell people: where the location is, what planes or boats or trains will take them there, what the geography is like and add details about possible lodging. If you do all of this in a boring monotone, without giving them a glimpse of this location, they will remain unmotivated to visit. Since we are using travel articles as an example, lets examine two short excerpts from two very different articles written regarding the same location.
Example One: The city of New Orleans has recovered since Katrina. It is located in the southern part of the state of Louisiana and accessible by air, sea, rail and car. The city has a long history and lots of historic sites. There are good hotels and restaurants.
Example Two: The bustling city of New Orleans is reborn and, some say, more exuberant than ever as the last vestiges of Katrina's wrath are bulldozed down or patched and repainted. Located at the mouth of the historic and vital Mississippi River, amid deltas and bayous that are alive with natural beauty, New Orleans is easily reached by all major airlines, cruise ships, Amtrak and, of course, by car. You'll be happy to hear many of the unique historic landmarks survived the hurricane and are now, once more, open to the public. In addition, the great restaurants, bars and fantastic New Orleans' style hospitality that made the city famous are once more alive and offering you great food and outstanding accommodations.
Both of these excerpts are factually correct. Both of them provide information you need to include in a travel article. Which one would you rather read? The simple use of descriptive words and phrases took something bland and brought it to life, like color can liven up an artist's canvas. So, when you are painting an idea or an image in a reader's mind, make sure you have a full palette of words to use so that you can create all the vibrant colors and subtle hues needed to entertain their minds and spark their imaginations.
Descriptive words and phrases can be as simple as adjectives and adverbs used solo to modify nouns and verbs, to the long descriptive phrases inserted to offer shape and texture to the writing. Of course, using too much descriptive phrasing can shoot you way over your word limit (happens to me all the time) but judicious use of it can add so much style and value to your writing. After all, a well-written article is not just words, but it is a work of written art. To be appreciated by your readers, not to mention your clients, you must apply descriptive terminology like paint to canvas and still manage to cover all the other mandated bases, as well. That's what good writers do.
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