Writing With Style Quality Descriptive Writing
The 6 Traits of Writing A great piece of writing has all of these important traits: *Ideas *Organization *Word Choice *Sentence Fluency *Voice *Conventions
Ideas & Content “The ideas are the heart of the message, the content of the piece…all the details that enrich and develop the theme.” --Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory
Ideas & Content A writer should: ~ Narrow the topic to something specific ~ Use a fresh, original perspective ~ When possible, write from experience ~ Use important, interesting details (not just common knowledge)
Organization • “Organization is the internal structure of a piece of writing, the thread of central meaning, the pattern.” • A writer should: ~ use an inviting lead that hooks the reader ~ use logical and effective order, structure, & sequence ~ use smooth transitions to emphasize main idea ~ place supporting details where they are most appropriate ~ use a conclusion that gives the reader a sense of resolution (clincher)
Word Choice “Strong word choice clarifies and expands ideas…moves and enlightens the reader.” --Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory “Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.” --Anton Chekhov
Word Choice A writer should: ~ Use words that create a mental picture for the reader ~ Use powerful action verbs (vivid verbs) ~ Use specific nouns and adjectives ~ Use language that is natural and not overdone ~ Be concise (tighten sentences) ~ Use words correctly ~ Avoid repetition, slang, and clichés
Sentence Fluency “Sentence fluency is the rhythm and flow of the language.” --Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory “To me the greatest pleasure of writing is not what it’s about, but the music the words make.” --Truman Capote
Sentence Fluency A writer should: ~Vary sentence beginning, structure, and length ~ Use complete sentences ~ Use transitions (internal & external) to promote cadence
Voice “It is the heart and soul of the writing, the magic, the wit, the feeling, the life and breath.” --Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory A writer should: ~ Write honestly and from the heart ~ Interact with the reader * without using YOU ~ Use language that brings the topic to life ~ Care about topic ~ Use expression to voice personality
Conventions • Some of you may not enjoy the editing process, but without this step, the other 5 traits could be overshadowed by errors that distract the reader. This trait is essential to a polished composition. • A writer should: ~ Turn in a clean, edited, and polished final draft ~ Reinforce the organization with good paragraphing ~ Use correct punctuation, spelling, and grammar
Descriptive Writing Show! Don’t tell!
What is Descriptive Writing? • Descriptive writing paints a picture for the reader. Let the reader share your experience through your words. Show it! Don’t tell it! • Use imagerythat appeal to the 5 senses: • Touch • Taste • Smell • Sound • Sight Imagery: The use of vivid description to create pictures, or images, in the reader’s mind.
How do I Make it Great? • Be specific! Give specific details. Expand your ideas! • Be original and creative! Don’t use clichés. Stretch your imagination! • Use figurative language to make strong comparisons (similes, metaphors, personification). • Use sensory details that appeal to the 5 senses.
For Example: • Instead of this: The hot, yellow sun went behind the mountain and covered the valley in red. • Try this: The sun cut itself on a sharp peak and bled into the valley.—John Steinbeck
Pay Attention to Your Words! • Use strong, specific nouns • Premodify nouns with strong adjectives (big, bad wolf, dazzling smile, antique gilded mirror) • Use vivid verbs!
Pre-modified nouns Generally exciting vocabulary, mostly relating to riches, elegance and sophistication Exciting verb choices; some personification
Try it! • You will each be given a piece of chocolate. Enjoy it, and then write your own description of it. • Adjective ideas: rich, decadent, divine, creamy • Verb ideas: draped, swathed, enveloped
Read Some Examples “Dark shapes glide through the night sky on silent wings, their sinister shadows outlined against the light of a full moon. Swooping down to the earth, they hover near houses and deserted buildings, breaking the peace of the night with their disturbing presence. Carriers of disease, drinkers of blood, companions of witches and demons, bats – the very word brings a shiver of fear to most people.” ~ Sylvia A. Johnson, Bats
A Description of the Wind “Anybody could see how cold it got. The wind already had glass edges to it, stiffening muscles and practically cutting through the stitches of our clothes. When it blew, the chill stabbed our teeth like icicles, and our voices jiggled every time we talked.” From Parrot in the Oven: Mi Vidaby Victor Martinez
Your Assignment Think of a strong memory. It may be an embarrassing moment, an exciting moment, or maybe a memorable moment. Write a descriptive paragraph that details this memory. Write in 1st person point of view and present tense as if you are experiencing this memory again as you write it.
Example Salty tears stream down my cheeks as I listen to the outraged cries of my new daughter. Everything else in the room ceases to exist as my eyes focus on the wiggling pink bundle in the doctor’s arms. She stops crying as I timidly approach her, her suddenly solemn eyes seeking to answer the question of my identity. Blue eyes. Her eyes are the kind of blue that happens when the deepest ocean meets the endless sky. Those are my eyes, I notice with astonishment….