a descriptive paragraph
To be good, descriptive writing has to be concrete, evocative and plausible.
In descriptive writing, the author does not just tell the reader what was seen, felt, tested, smelled, or heard. Rather, the author describes something from their own experience and, through careful choice of words and phrasing, makes it seem real. Descriptive writing is vivid, colorful, and detailed.
The types of words to use are strong verbs and colorful adjectives. Verbs are action words such as run, leap, shout, and fly. Adjectives are words that describe nouns. Examples of colorful adjectives are: smelly, disgusting, gorgeous, radiant, brilliant, and gigantic.
When you write a descriptive paragraph, you are describing something. When you do this, you must use wording that will allow your readers to be able to see what you are writing about without being able to actually “see” it.
Arrange the details in an order that makes sense for your topic. (You could easily describe a room from back to front, but that same structure would be a confusing way to describe a tree.) If you get stuck, read model descriptive paragraphs for inspiration, and don’t be afraid to experiment with different arrangements. In your final draft, the details should follow a logical pattern, with each sentence connecting to the sentences that come before and after it.
Remember to show, rather than tell, even in your topic and concluding sentences. A topic sentence that reads, “I am describing my pen because I love to write” is obvious “telling” (the fact that you’re describing your pen should be self-evident from the paragraph itself) and unconvincing (the reader cannot feel or sense the strength of your love of writing).
A good descriptive paragraph is like a window into another world. Through the use of careful examples or details, an author can conjure a scene that vividly describes a person, place, or thing. The best descriptive writing appeals to multiple senses at once—smell, sight, taste, touch, and hearing—and is found in both fiction and nonfiction.
In this paragraph (originally published in “Washington Post Book World” and reprinted in ”Faith of a Writer: Life, Craft, Art”), Joyce Carol Oates affectionately describes the one-room schoolhouse she attended from first through fifth grades. Notice how she appeals to our sense of smell before moving on to describe the layout and contents of the room. When you walk into a place, its overall smell hits you immediately, if it’s pungent, even before you’ve taken in the whole area with your eyes. Thus this choice of chronology for this descriptive paragraph is also a logical order of narration, even though it differs from the Hong Kingston paragraph. It allows the reader to imagine the room just as if he were walking into it.
A descriptive paragraph describes a thing, a person, or a place. Detailed information allows the reader to form an image in his or her imagination. The better the description, the clearer the image.
The sense of sight is the one that most writers consider first, but try to work on that one last. Let’s take, for example, a description of a place. What do you feel when you go there? What do you feel on your skin. Is it hot or cold? Is it wet or dry? What do you smell? Is there food? Are the smells good or bad? What do the smells remind you of? What do you hear? Is it quiet or noisy? Are there cars moving about? Are people talking? What about the sounds of nature? Are they present? Even a soft wind makes a sound. Taste is a difficult sense to describe, and the degree to which you pay this any attention depends on the subject matter. Sight comes last. Here you can describe color, size, depth, height, width, etc.