From Joe: Today, I'm excited to introduce our second regular contributor, Melissa Tydell. Melissa is a professional freelance writer, has her Masters in Writing and Publishing, and lives in the beautiful city of Chicago (I'm so jealous). You can check out her blog and follow her on Twitter (@melissatydell). Melissa will be joining us every other Monday, so be sure to make her feel welcome.

Good stories and strong writing can transport us to another world. We see the characters and setting, visualizing every detail as if the words on the page have become a picture in our minds.

On the other hand, as writers, we encounter the challenge of putting words together—the right words in the right way—so our story can come alive in our readers’ imaginations.

How do you create something that goes beyond simply telling a story? How do you write something that has the power to show in such a way that readers can visualize the story just as you are imagining it?

paintbrushes, writing, art

Photo by Futurilla

Look Closely

Here’s the trick: by focusing on the scene you’ve formed in your imagination (or by examining an actual photograph for inspiration) and zeroing in on specific details, you can write a story that truly brings that visual to life.

Details describe characters—what they look like, how they speak, how they move. Details build the setting—the colors, shapes, furniture and decor, weather, and anything else that exists in the world you’re creating. Details appeal to the readers’ senses—how things smell, taste, feel, look, or sound.

Including details that are visual and tangible will paint a picture for your readers.

Choose Wisely

It’s up to you as the writer to discern which details are important and which can be left out. Consider all the details you visualize in your imagined scene and which ones will help your readers see it too.

Reading a story is fun because it allows us to use our own imaginations, so it’s not necessary to hold your readers’ hands and fill in every blank. Give your readers what they need to understand and imagine your story while still leaving enough space for creativity. Choose the details that are strongest—those that will guide your readers and help them to envision the rest on their own.

Which details do you think are most important to include in a story? Which should be left out?


Visualize a scene from your own work-in-progress writing as your source of inspiration.

Write about this image for fifteen minutes, describing the most important details and tapping into the senses. Think about which details will help the scene truly come to life in readers’ minds.

When you’re finished, post your practice in the comments section.

Melissa Tydell is a freelance writer, content consultant, and blogger who enjoys sharing her love of the written word with others. You can connect with Melissa through her website, blog, or Twitter.

Share to...