descriptors / writers resources

70 Collections to Infuse Your Writing

For the next few months, weekly writing tips will include word choice suggestions. That includes:

  • colorful and original descriptions
  • pithy words and phrases
  • picture nouns and action verbs
  • writing that draws a reader in and addicts them to your voice

I keep a  collection of descriptions that have pulled me into the books. I’m fascinated how authors can–in just a few words–put me in the middle of their story and make me want to stay there. I’ve shared 48 themes in the past:

A note: These are for inspiration only. They can’t be copied because they’ve been pulled directly from an author’s copyrighted manuscript (intellectual property is immediately copyrighted when published).

  1. Actions That Are Timeless
  2. Actions (Era-Specific)
  3. American
  4. Appearance
  5. Body Language
  6. Body Parts
  7. Body Parts–Moving
  8. Character Traits
  9. Clothing–General
  10. Clothing—Women’s
  11. Depression
  12. Dogs
  13. Emotion Part Iemotions
  14. Emotion Part III
  15. Emotion–A to D
  16. Emotion–E to O
  17. Emotions
  18. Emotion–S to Z
  19. Fascinating Character
  20. Fight
  21. Genius
  22. Hacker
  23. Headaches
  24. Homes I
  25. Homes II
  26. Horses
  27. Intel Devices
  28. Jobs
  29. Landscape–African
  30. Landscape—General
  31. Memorable
  32. Nature
  33. Neighborhood
  34. Noses, Mouths, Legs, and more
  35. Pain
  36. Protagonistprotagonist
  37. Sensory Actions
  38. Sick and Illnesses
  39. Sickness and Illness
  40. Sight and Eyes
  41. Similes
  42. Sneak Around
  43. Sound
  44. Talking
  45. Time
  46. Vehicles–Cars, Boats, Planes, More
  47. Weird Traits
  48. Wild Animals

Over the next months, I’ll add 21 more. The links below won’t be active until the post is up. If you arrive at the link early, please come back!

  1. Animals
  2. Birds
  3. Buildings Homes I
  4. Buildings Homes II
  5. Buildings–Neighborhoods
  6. Buildings–Work
  7. Detectives
  8. Eating and Drinking
  9. Family
  10. Furnishings
  11. Geeks
  12. Geeky-Techie
  13. Law Enforcement
  14. People
  15. Room
  16. Scents
  17. Spies
  18. Ticks
  19. Transitions
  20. Weather
  21. Workouts

All of these are for inspiration only. They can’t be copied because they’ve been pulled directly out of an author’s copyrighted manuscript (intellectual property is immediately copyrighted).

When you read the collections, I’d love to have you add your descriptions.

I like to collect descriptions other people have of life. I keep them on a big spreadsheet that I’m constantly updating. I read a lot and I pay attention to how my fellow authors get their ideas across, how they create pictures of scenery from their words. I’m in awe of people like Peter Matthiessen with his nature descriptions and Margaret Meade with her emotion-invoking portraits of people.

Here’s my collection of nature. I’ve drawn many of them from the following authors:

  • Matthiessen, who I think is the quintessential writer on our environs
  • Margaret Meade–to her, people don’t exist outside of their habitat. I agree
  • Barry Lopez–a beautiful nature writer
  • many more I don’t remember, just copied their words down, in awe over their ability to draw me into their worlds

Here’s my list. I hope it inspires you as it does me:

  • big pink-lavender grasshoppers sail away on the hot wind, the burring of their flight as dry and scratchy as the long grass and
    nature descriptions

    Credit: Web Design Elements

    the baked black rock

  • grasshoppers clicking in the dry air
  • worn trail
  • the dusty trail led through desperate-looking junipers
  • every trail disappeared as thoroughly as water dried under Sun’s scorching heat, and then he just didn’t have time
  • the whisper of our passage through dry grass
  • stands out like a scar, catching your notice like the pain that caused it
  • mother nature’s store
  • pastoral scene
  • examine the lichen growth of low-lying boulders and the moss encircling the trunks of trees
  • the old decayed log, long softened by rot and spotted with moss
  • detect smoke for a distance of two to three miles
  • deep shadow of a maple tree
  • the air was rich with winter jasmine and cold, and grew even colder
  • a rough-skinned frog camouflaged against cracked and lined bark
  • leaves hung limp in the gray, damp air
  • nothing so black in Africa as the thorn tree
  • the day was out of sync with his mood
  • daylight had begun to drain away
  • air was cool but the sun was out
  • sky as gray-white and sunless
  • one-quarter of a moonlit night
  • cold light
  • silver-white moon hung
  • a half-moon rests in the fronds over our heads
  • watching the horizon drain of color
  • inky blackness
  • thick clouds blotted out the stars
  • a thin layer of clouds masked the full moon, filling the room with blue light
  • cool restful shady world with light filtering lazily through the tree tops that meet high overhead and shut out the direct sunlight
  • it supplies them with all of their needs
  • the season turned and the night was clear and cold
  • dusk blanketed Bakersfield
  • domesticated tree
  • cuts lengths of vine, softened it by running it quickly from hand to hand, pulling it sharply through the fork of the thumb
  • reeds and head-high marsh grass
  • dry and stalky and lost all nutritive value
  • dry grass, stalky brush and deadwood
  • hot scrub
  • tall tussock grasses
  • cattails (edible, soft fluff)
  • a green meadow bathed in the humid light of a sinking sun
  • gigantic gnarled spirals, almost as thick as a man’s body (the roots) joining the main trunk which towered above. Called ‘elephant tree’ because they always took refuge in one if they were attacked by elephants
  • the fire popped loudly as a stone exploded
  • splashed through the water, into a copse of juniper, pushing through the calf-high grass and scrub to a small rock outcropping
  • the damp air, the gigantic water-laden leaves that are constantly dripping, the violent storms that come with monotonous regularity, the very earth itself heavy and cloying after the slightest slower
  • whizzing chirr of the insects

Copyright ©2022 – All rights reserved.

Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular prehistoric fiction saga, Man vs. Nature which explores seminal events in man’s evolution one trilogy at a time. She is also the author of the Rowe-Delamagente thrillers and Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy. Her non-fiction includes over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, reviews as an Amazon Vine Voice,  a columnist for NEA Today, and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. Look for her next prehistoric fiction, Savage Land, Winter 2024.


99 thoughts on “70 Collections to Infuse Your Writing

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  5. This is such great resource, J.

    I am going to add a link to it in an upcoming post because I am
    Interviewing a writer and this will be super helpful for some
    Folks –
    Also –
    I can’t wait to check
    Out some of the links …

    Liked by 1 person

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  41. Jacqui you amaze me with the amount of work you have behind you. Thank you for these, I can never have too many idea prompts. I read the one on nature today. I cannot help but be inspired by the words of how others describe nature. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  42. Holy, jump’n jive’n and lots’a other things that come to mind . . . took you a decade to collect all those references . . . it would take me a life-time to read them!!!!
    Incredible Jacqui. You continue to blow me away with your resources and know-how.

    Liked by 1 person

  43. This is a wonderful addition to having and , of course, using a thesaurus. Although I can find most words I’m looking for was a certain amount of ease with a thesaurus, phrases are a whole other matter. Yes, I understand that your list is the spark a writer’s own ideas for this, but some of the descriptions can be used as is if one is careful.

    Liked by 1 person

  44. Jacqui, this is a wonderful resource. I especially like your comments at the top about descriptions, phrases, nouns and verbs, and voice. That neatly sums up the skill of writing – the rest is the experience of doing so. Good writing is fresh, original, exciting, and well crafted.

    Liked by 4 people

  45. Thank you, Jacqui. I’m reading a series right now by David Handler, and I’ll make a list of the words and phrases that drew me in because this series has really caught my eye. I started out reading one of his Berger & Mitry Crime Fiction books ten days ago, and now I have read all ten and am waiting on the eleventh to be released this month.

    Liked by 2 people

      • Jacqui, if you’re going to try the series, start with book 1- The Cold Blue Blood. It was a nominee for the Dilys Award in 2002. I read the first ten books in order. My heart started preparing for a disappointment in book five and six but I find Handler did a great job of smoothing that out to a good ending. I’m in the process of writing an overall book review on the first ten books, and when I get my list up, I will put it on one of my blogs and let you know. Three words that Handler use, I love because it is another way of defining race, and that is he says woman or women of color. With that along, he drew me in.
        Take care.

        Liked by 1 person

  46. Jacqui, what a wonderful font of inspiration – you’ve worked hard to collate all this for us – thank you so much. A writing course by itself!😄 I’m going to book mark this for future reference as well as looking through some more now. Look forward to the rest as they come out!

    Liked by 2 people

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