Description Unit One English 1301 Hammonds-French
Using the senses • Jot down some phrases to describe the image…
REVIEW description • Definition – the writer’s vivid use of language to reveal what the senses experience or how the sense respond to an event, object, person, idea • Types – • Objective: literal, factual description • Subjective: personal, emotional, responsive description
PURPOSE definition • Descriptive writing is used either as a dominant technique of expression or as a supportive technique to develop parts of the essay • Determine the amount of description needed • Is topic familiar? Foreign? • Is my assignment a “Descriptive Essay” (dominant technique) or “Causal Analysis” (supportive technique) • Determine how much your audience needs • Is my topic familiar? Foreign? • Is my topic limited or limitless in sensory application?
STRATEGIES for using description 1 • Focus: Your essay must be centered around a dominant impression, your thesis or main point. • Regardless of the many ways you could describe your topic, you must limit your focus to a main point.
2 • Be Selective: You should consider the details to include that contribute directly to your thesis or main idea. • Think, “Although I am describing my _____, which is very vivid and interesting to me, what details would I include tosupport only the dominant impression I want to convey to my audience?” • Think, “What details are merely undifferentiated specifics – a part of my topic, but not of my focus – that I should omit?
3 • Organize the details: Use a pattern of development that best suits your topic as you describe (reveal) it to your readers. • You should have a sentence early in your writing that names the scene, object, or individual to be described as a sort of informal topic sentence, and then the descriptive details you include develop that topic sentence. • Usually descriptive paragraphs are arranged spatially (from top to bottom, interior to exterior, near to far) or chronologically (as the subject was experienced in time).
3 (continued) • Paragraphs of description may also be arranged emphatically (ending with your subject’s most striking elements) or by sensory impression (first smell, then taste, then touch, and so on with the most important senses to your description) • Regardless of the organizational pattern, be sure to use enough signal devices (for example, about, next, worst of all) so that readers can follow your description easily.
4 • Use vivid sensory language and varied sentence patterns: To etch in your readers’ minds the same picture that you, the writer, have in yours, use connotative, richly evocative language. • Use concrete, sensory-packed sentences. • Avoid overloading sentences with too many adjectives. • Verbs pack more of a wallop than adverbs. • Figures of speech – simile, metaphor, personification, onomatopoeia – may enliven your description.
Check your Understanding… • Vague or Vivid? • The food was unappetizing. • The stew congealed into an oval pool of muddy-brown fat. • The toothpaste, minty sweet, tingled against my bare teeth, finally free from braces. • The toothpaste was refreshing. • Filled with passengers and baggage, the car moved slowly down the road. • Burdened with its load of clamoring children and bulging suitcases, the car labored down the interstate on bald tires and worn shocks, emitting puffs of blue exhaust and an occasional backfire.
Powerful and rich or Overshooting the mark? • A stark, smooth, blinding glass cylinder, the fifty-story skyscraper dominated the crowded city street. • A blinding glass cylinder, the skyscraper dominated the street.
Vivid verbs or verve-less verbs? • She walked casually into the room and deliberately tried not to pay attention to their stares. • She strolled into the room and ignored their stares. • She sauntered into the room and challenged their stares.
Imaginative or …not? • Lining the beach, the tanned bodies, glistening with lotion, sizzled in the Caribbean sun. • Moving as jerkily as a marionette on strings, the old man picked himself up off the sidewalk and staggered down the street. • Stalking their prey, the hall monitors remained hidden in the corridors, motionless and ready to spring on any unsuspecting student who tried to sneak into class late. • The scoop of vanilla ice cream, plain and unadorned, cried out for hot fudge sauce and a sprinkling of pecans.
To vary or not to vary…sentence structure, that is. • Simple sentence = Hot and thirsty, exhausted from the effort of carrying so many groceries, I desired nothing more than an ice-cold glass of lemonade. • Complex sentence = Because I was hot and thirsty, I craved lemonade. • Note: vary sentence length, emphasis, openings, punctuation
Description: Activity one • Complete two activities for analyzing DESCRIPTION: • The following sentences contain clichés. Rewrite each sentence by supplying a fresh and imaginative figure of speech. • They were as quiet as mice. • My brother used to get green with envy if I had a date and he didn’t. • The little girl is proud as a peacock of her Girl Scout uniform. • The athlete is as dull as dishwater.
Activity two • Read the following first draft descriptive paragraph. Suggest revisions to improve its quality of description. • As a child, I was intrigued by stories about the farm in Harrison County, Maine, where my father spent his teens. Being raised on a farm seemed more interesting than growing up in the suburbs. So about a year ago, I decided to see for myself what the farm was like. I got there by driving on Route 334, a surprisingly easy-to-drive, four-lane highway that had recently been built with matching state and federal funds. I turned into the dirt road leading to the farm and got out of my car. It had been washed and waxed for the occasion. Then I headed for the dirt-colored barn. Its roof was full of huge, rotted holes. As I rounded the bushes, I saw the house. It too was dirt-colored. Its paint must have worn off decades ago. A couple of dead-looking old cars were sprawled in front.
Sample essay • Discuss “Sister Flowers” homework • After reading, use the checklist on pp. 130 and/or 128-129 (new book) to explore the effectiveness of the sample essay. • Review effectiveness of “Sister Flowers” (see graph)
Find the descriptors… • What a day for a Redwood trek! The thermometer reads 104*. December scents of the forest tantalize me, bringing memories of brightly wrapped gifts and Mama’s turkey and dressing, but this is no Christmas in July! Stepping off the path, shadows dapple the ground where shade beckons, promising relief. Verdant moss thrives on century’s old towers of behemoth evergreen. Making its own rain, the grandfather tree in front of me promises a misty perch where I may contemplate nature. Wizened trunks keep secrets of sounds that no human hears. Nature’s towering fortress enfolds this hobbit, at least until I drain my canteen. Rising, stumbling over exposed roots, I must leave my hidden oasis and trudge back to the trail, but I take a sense of solitude and serenity oblivious to the 100* heat.
Description • Sample descriptive writing based on photo • Descriptive prewriting in class using own photo. You should write a vividly descriptive that is at least one page in length. • Turn in your prewriting by the bell!