descriptors / writers resources

How to Describe Vehicles

If you’re character is crossing a street, driving to work, waiting for a visitor, you’ll devote a few words to the vehicle that’s making this activity happen. It might be a car, a train, plane–whatever. My collection is brief, but rich. As usual, they are from the books I read, so use them for inspiration, not verbatim. I hope you add some of your own ideas in  the comments:



  • After too short a ride
  • Spotless red Jeep glittering in the fluorescent light
  • Could drive across the entire continent never seeing farther than the beams of your headlights.
  • Listened to the engine tick
  • Three-year-old Camaro, a rally-red Z28
  • Joe weaved between cars
  • Flash-flooded highway—cars got stranded in foot-deep lakes
  • The Honda juddered up and over the obstruction.
  • A dark green Land Rover, the Defender model, all kitted out in brush bars, searchlights, and a siren mounted on the bonnet.
  • the car behind him honked once more. He would go take the driver out, but then his wallet was back…
  • Drew a bead on the car
  • An older low-slung Impala came toward him
  • Older white panel van
  • Pimped black Escalade
  • Two Accords with fat tires and stingers
  • Pulled off and found a place to park and wait awhile for the radiator to cool before he put in some fresh fluid from the trunk
  • The rain came steady and cold against the windshield and rattled on the roof of the car
  • Car with a funny bumper sticker
  • Unfurled from her car like a boxer entering the ring
  • Expensive cars: Maybach Landaulets, Bulgatti Veyrons, SSC Ultimate Aero, Leblanc Mirabeau, Pagani Zonda Cinque Roadster, Lamborghini Reventon, Koenigsegg CCXR


  • Junking his bike from side to side


  • As it churned slowly past
  • Huge tires howled
  • The scream of stressed rubber dying away, thin drifts of moving blue smoke following it
  • Nothing to hear but the Malibu’s patient idle. Nothing to see but four high beams stabbing the far shoulder. The air was full of the smell of burned rubber and hot brakes and gas and oil.
  • Big rigs thundered down the highway and he could feel their vibrations in his chest
  • Sticky-smell of burned transmission fluid, spoiled fruit and bubble gum.


  • white cones of headlamps
  • the headlights made the wet highway shimmer
  • traffic was faintly visible thru the door
  • battered 67 Ford Fairlane
  • Headlights flicked a couple of times
  • Windshield wipers barely keeping up with the cold, hard rain.
  • Kept the car at a steady sixty. Power line poles flashed past, the tires sang, the motor hummed.
  • throttled around the corner
  • Rainswept morning rush hour, bumper to bumper
  • Streets glistened and the cars had their lights on even though it was well after sunrise.
  • cut a few blocks inland


  • Bird (for helo)
  • Trotted through the gale of the blades, overcoat lifting, tie flapping back across his shoulder


  • sheet metal buckling around him


  • fouled her rails
  • one of the water shuttle boats from Rowe’s Wharf was trudging toward the airport

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Jacqui Murray is the editor of a technology curriculum for K-fifth grade and author of two technology training books for middle school. She wrote Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy midshipman.  She is webmaster for five blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, a columnist for, and a weekly contributor to Write Anything and Technology in Education. Currently, she’s working on a techno-thriller that should be ready this summer. Contact Jacqui at her writing office, WordDreams, or her tech lab, Ask a Tech Teacher.

3 thoughts on “How to Describe Vehicles

  1. Thanks, I always learn something new when reading your blog ^w^ If you happen to make another one of these I’d love to see trains. I love the way you write about cars ^.^


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