descriptors / writers resources

19 Ways to Describe People

peopleFor 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. This one’s on how to describe people.

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. A bawling boy, a woman loaded with baggage scolding a man loaded with baggage, who also pushed a stroller containing a shrieking baby.
  2. Wasn’t but a little more than ten years back that he had been one of those reckless boys, too, before September 11 and his tour of Iraq. A sobering decade, a decade that stole his youth.
  3. Their trudging walk, and the way they sagged into themselves as they passed by him and went on out into the sunlit streets of Niceville.  Their faces were blank, expressionless, and there were no children.
  4. Best safecracker in Boston and the dumbest man in the worldpeople
  5. Elder statesman
  6. “Why do you think he’s here?” I knew who she meant
  7. Heavy old woman with her hair in a bun squinting at them as they went past
  8. The man was misshapen like a tumor
  9. How come I’m always Hawk’s girlfriend? That’s all you could be. In his world there aren’t any women who are tv producers. There’s mothers, grandmothers, sisters, aunts and girlfriends.  God, that defines women only in reference to men. Exactly.
  10. Looking fabulous is a full-time career: creams, unguents, potions, lotions, jellies and jams, personal trainers, massage therapists, vitamins, blah blah
  11. He and Harris had history
  12. Firemen, with that deliberate walk imposed by their heavy gear, had become iconic
  13. Like a boxer who’s been tagged and doesn’t want to show it
  14. The crowd was typical—black, Asian, Hispanic, rich, old, poor, professional, working-class, gangbanger, all milling about in a colorful urban tableau. Liberals loved this crap. Most of us simply wished we could win the lottery and buy ourselves a car.26844448 students group standing together as team
  15. Mr. Nelson got old. Lot of that going around.
  16. What’s his name? Brian–why? He ought to have a name.
  17. If I hadn’t been me, I’d have wished I were
  18. Friends—people you trust and like and don’t have to watch what you say when you’re around them. The kind who won’t hold it against you when you drink too much and act like an idiot.
  19. Americans were easily identified by their girth, their bulky clothes’, their various packs, fanny, back, or otherwise, and cameras dangling from their wrists. The Asians traveled in tight packs, were smaller and had nicer cameras that were slung around their necks. The Russians and other Eastern Europeans added another interesting mix. The women usually wore too much makeup, their hair was bleached and dried at the ends, with dark roots, and their men wore lots of jewelry and track suits, or at least track jackets and oversized sunglasses as if they were Elvis impersonators. The Brits, Germans, and other Europeans were a little more difficult to pick out

Click for the complete list of 69 writer’s themed descriptions.

Most popular collections:

34 Ways to Describe Eating and Drinking

44 Ways to Describe Buildings–Homes I

72 Ways to Describe Sound

Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy, and the thriller, To Hunt a Sub. She is also the author/editor of over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, adjunct professor of technology in education, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer,  a columnist for TeachHUB, monthly contributor to Today’s Author, and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. You can find her books at her publisher’s website, Structured Learning.

59 thoughts on “19 Ways to Describe People

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  5. Hi Jacqui – I’ve come over from Susan Scott and her Garden of Eden blog – so good luck with To Hunt a Sub … and I’ll enjoy reading your posts as they come in and garnering some, for me, forgotten ideas – cheers Hilary

    Liked by 1 person

  6. This was lots of fun to read, but I cringed a few times when I seemed to be in the writer’s sight. How did they find me? Ugh!
    My two favorites:
    The man was misshapen like a tumor
    Mr. Nelson got old. Lot of that going around.
    (My birthday in a few weeks is going to make me so old, I can’t even spell out in words the number.)

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Great reading, Jacqui! I have saved so many of your post as I find them very helpful to improve my English and my writing. Now my macBook is giving me a hard time and I have lost all the links, but fortunately, all I have to do is to click my way through your archive. 🙂 Thanks for sharing all this valuable information with us!

    Liked by 2 people

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