Mastering the Art of Story Description

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By DiAnn Mills

Mastering the art of story description is an exciting creative process for the writer. We use our imaginations to step into a character’s shoes and live the adventure from page one to the end. Various techniques show fresh and unusual details through the point of view character, and the result immerses the writer and the reader into the story. The thrill begins!

We’ve been taught since basic writing instruction to research powerful nouns, vivid verbs, and to cut back on adjectives and cleverly inserted adverbs to show our stories. Parts of speech are essential for proper grammar and create a vivid story world for our readers. But there’s more to our craft than word substitution, witty dialogue, narrative that draws us into the moment, and more than finding ten ways to note how a character walks, talks, loves, or runs from a stalker.

By exploring the traits and voice of the point of view character, writers create memorable passages no other character can or will duplicate.


Many characterization sketches and guidelines are amazing to help the writer find the real character. Take a leap and investigate the quirky parts of character that make him/her stand out. This is discovered in backstory, the life experiences before chapter one line one of story that ensures he/she is the perfect character for the role.

How does a writer discover a character’s needs, wants, feelings, education, vocabulary, and the many psychological intricacies? What are the words only he/she uses?

If you’d like a copy of my characterization sketch, simply email me:


How does your character feel about the goal or problem facing him/her? Passion and drive are a given, but what about the character who looks at the world through a distinct outlook? How does your character illustrate the situation? What metaphors and similes are his/her alone? At what critical moments is deep point of view an asset?


The words our character say come from characterization, backstory, emotion, and what has been presented in the story problem. The character’s goal or problem is set in his/her mind, constantly plaguing the character, and the dialogue demonstrates it.


The writer researches the best places to set a scene. The objective is for the setting to be antagonistic. How does the character face and describe each problematic situation, and how does it change as the scene progresses? How does an antagonistic setting force the character to change and grow?

Emotions and Body Language

Emotions and body language reflect the inner character. Some characters attempt to hide feelings, while others are unable to fight them. The character has specifics to voice how reactions and responses affect him/her. Is your character successful in covering up emotions? How does he/she internalize feelings? What symbols are used if any?

In mastering the art of description, writers are challenged to create unique situations that allow the reader to experience every sentence through the point of view character. A masterful writer uses stress, tension, and conflict scene to show a character struggling to achieve wants and needs.

How do you master the art of story description?

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DiAnn Mills is a bestselling author who believes her readers should expect an adventure. Her titles have appeared on the CBA and ECPA bestseller lists; won two Christy Awards; the Inspirational Readers’ Choice, and Carol award contests. DiAnn speaks to groups and teaches writing all over the country. Connect with DiAnn here:



Comments 3

  1. The story that’s my guide and model
    is told from four perspectives.
    It tells a life lived at full throttle
    and reaches its objectives.
    The first tells of a leader,
    promised oh so long ago!
    and the second of a healer
    who was so hard to know.
    The third was for the people
    who were not the protagonist’s own,
    and the fourth showed us the regal
    heir to His Father’s throne.
    When I write, I use this narrative arc
    to lift a light against the dark.

  2. Characterization is a struggle for me. In the 2010 movie “True Grit,” Jeff Bridges transforms himself into the character Rooster Cogburn so completely that he isn’t recognizable as Jeff Bridges. I love when actors and actresses do that. I want to do that with the characters in my books. I want each to have his/her own personality, background, etc. This is really hard for me; most of the time, they all wind up sounding like me–LOL! One of the best comments I received from a Beta reader was about a character named Clint. The Beta reader said, “I don’t think Clint would do this.” Wow! Clint had his own personality. That felt great. I like the emotions and body language tips you give above. Thank you for the offer of the characterization sheet. I sent you an email requesting it.

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