Writing Tips #6: Size Descriptors

This is one of my pet peeves when it comes to reading and writing. I read a sentence like this:

…he went to a large statue, surrounded by massive gemstone decorations that stretched long around the environment. The sizable designs screamed of their hugeness…


…the doorway was giant, evoking awe to her parted lips…

Nothing frustrates more than an unreferenced size descriptor. If an object or a person is large, mention how much it rises from the ground, or use a conventional object as a reference. This goes back to the phrase of ‘show, don’t tell.’ It’s a lazy method of adding dimensions to a dimensionless object.  For normal items, like a hand or a face, it’s assumed how large they are. So, a phrase like:

…a sapphire as large as a child’s fist…

works well, since we have something to reference it to. There can be exceptions, such as:

…he was a tall man…

Since people have a generalized height. But it still helps to add how high a person stands relative to others. Added reference details never hurt, but a dearth of them can seriously mar your writing.

Tip: If you’re struggling to describe something, close your eyes and visualize the object next to an item you’re familiar with. Resort to metric units if you have to. Some authors use a head or a hand as a reference. You can also devise creative and unique ways to reference objects, as long as the concept is clearly explained.

What are your strategies for size descriptors? Id love to hear in the comments below. Thanks for reading! 🙂




2 thoughts on “Writing Tips #6: Size Descriptors

  1. A thing I admittedly struggle with. 😦 I feel that occasionally, bland descriptors have a place in very concise writing. And sometimes, you can do away with the whole tangle through skilled used of verbs, for example.

    Liked by 1 person

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