piece of descriptive writing
“She had pewter-colored hair set in a ruthless permanent, a hard beak, and large moist eyes with the sympathetic expression of wet stones.”
The painting was a field of flowers, blues and yellows atop deep green stems that seemed to call the viewer in to play.
In their own way, each of the following writers (three of them students, two of them professional authors) have selected a belonging or a place that holds special meaning to them. After identifying that subject in a clear topic sentence, they proceed to describe it in detail while explaining its personal significance.
Observe how the writer moves clearly from a description of the head of the clown to the body to the unicycle underneath. More than sensory details for the eyes, she provides touch, in the description that the hair is made of yarn and the suit of nylon. Certain colors are specific, as in cherry-red cheeks and light blue, and descriptions help the reader to visualize the object: the parted hair, the color line on the suit, and the grapefruit analogy. Dimensions overall help to provide the reader with the item’s scale, and the descriptions of the size of the ruffle and bows on the shoes in comparison to what’s nearby provide telling detail. The concluding sentence helps to tie the paragraph together by emphasizing the personal value of this gift.
Mitchell, D. (1996). Writing to learn across the curriculum and the English teacher. English Journal, 85, 93-97.
This video is published with permission from the Balanced Literacy Diet. See related how-to videos with lesson plans in the Writing Processes and Strategies section.
Now, the similes could easily have been written as metaphors with a little reworking…
That may make you smile or not. But there’s no doubting that it’s a very concise way of painting a picture in the readers’ minds. And here’s one I made up myself…
Always keep the reader in mind from opening to concluding paragraph. A descriptive essay must be precise in its detail, yet not get ahead of itself. It’s better to go from the general to the specific. Otherwise, the reader will have trouble building the image in their mind’s eye. For example, don’t describe a glossy coat of fur before telling the reader the essay is about a dog!
4. Editing a Descriptive Essay
At this point in the writing process, writers proofread and correct errors in grammar and mechanics. It’s also the time to improve style and clarity. Watch out for clichés and loading up on adjectives and adverbs. Having a friend read the essay helps writers see trouble spots and edit with a fresh perspective.