how to write a description
by Jeremy Burden
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.
After you have taken a short break or a walk (or whatever the case may be), read the entire essay again thinking about your reader. You should ask yourself if you were the reader, would the essay make sense to you? Is it easy to read so that anyone can understand what the topic of the essay is? Do any of the paragraphs need to be rewritten because they are confusing and need to be better written to be descriptive?
It is important to take a break from your writing once you have completed the work. By stepping away from the work for a short time you can clear your mind and take a short rest. You can then take a look at the essay with fresh eyes and view it in much the same way that a person reading it will when they first see the piece.
The primary purpose of descriptive writing is to describe a person, place or thing in such a way that a picture is formed in the reader’s mind. Capturing an event through descriptive writing involves paying close attention to the details by using all of your five senses. Teaching students to write more descriptively will improve their writing by making it more interesting and engaging to read.
Akerson, V. L., & Young, T.A. (2005). Science the ‘write’ way. Science and Children, 43(3), 38-41.
There is a person who is the hero of every BBQ or family cookout and that is the Grill Master. We always looked up to our Mom or Dad as they tended the grill and looked forward to the day when we could be in charge of charring the meatstuff and searing delicious slices of fresh pineapple. Now that we’re adults, it’s finally our turn and technology has smiled upon us, giving us a tool that is destined to impress.
Restaurants have known it for a long time: sensory words increase sales, because they engage more brain processing power. Here’s an example of chocolate maker Green and Black.
We’re told what we need to know, thrown into that murky Korova atmosphere and Burgess moves the action on. All we really have in terms of detail are those mooing red cows, some cubies (curtain booths?), and a plushy chair. There’s lots more author Anthony Burgess could tell us about that place. But he doesn’t. He gives us the right details, not all the details.
That’s a simple technique, bit it works every time.