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Writing Descriptive Essays
What, exactly, is a Descriptive Essay? A descriptive essay is simply an essay that describes something or someone by appealing to the reader’s senses: sight, sound, touch, smell, and taste.
Steps to writing an effective Descriptive Essay: 1. Select a subject - Observation is the key to writing a good description. For example, if you are writing about a place, go there and take notes on the sights, sounds, and smells. A descriptive essay paints a picture for the reader, using descriptive devices and the senses.
2. Create a thesis statement – A thesis statement is simply a sentence that tells the reader what you are going to be talking about throughout the entire essay • Your thesis statement should never begin with phrases like, “I am going to be talking about. . . ”
• Since this is a descriptive essay, create a thesis that informs the reader of who or what you will be describing. Ex: “My bedroom is an ocean sanctuary” Ex: “My family vacation to Disney World was a magical week of fun, laughter, and sun-filled happiness.
Select dominant details - Make sure you are only writing about things that specifically support your thesis. 3. For example, if your thesis statement is talking about your sun-filled trip to the beach, don’t bore the reader with meaningless details about your swimsuit. . . You should be describing the beach itself, and perhaps some of the events that took place there (e. g. building a sandcastle, boogie-boarding, parasailing, etc. )
4. Use descriptive words – do not use vague words or generalities (such as good, nice, bad, or even beautiful). • Think about it. . . Which sounds better? “I ate a good dinner. ” Or “I devoured a steaming hot, cheese-filled pepperoni pizza for dinner. ” See the difference?
5. Provide sensory detail - Smells that are in the air (the aroma of freshly brewed coffee) - Sounds (traffic, honking horns, waves crashing) - Sights (“The sun scattered tiny diamonds across dewcovered grass as it peeked out from beyond the horizon. ”) - Touch (“The texture of the adobe hut’s walls resembled coarse sandpaper. ”) - Taste: sweet, sour, salty, bitter, tart (“Giant goose bumps formed on my tongue when I accidently bit into a sliver of lemon. ”)
6. Draw a logical conclusion - The conclusion may also use descriptive words; however, make certain the conclusion is logical and relevant.
Now let’s practice! On a blank sheet of paper, look at the following images. Write down things you might hear, see, taste, smell, or feel/touch if you were “in” these pictures After you have compiled a brief list of sensory details, write a descriptive sentence about each picture.
The Narrative Essay A narrative essay is a story written about a personal experience. Writing a narrative essay provides an opportunity to get to know and understand yourself better. Narratives provide human interest, spark our curiosity, and draw us close to the storyteller.
In addition, narratives can Create a sense of shared history Provide entertainment Provide insight
Traits of a Narrative Essay Usually written in first person – “I” Usually rely on concrete, sensory details to convey their point Usually include these story conventions: plot, setting, characters, climax, ending ALWAYS make a point. You don’t tell a story just for the sake of telling…your story must make a point.
Show don’t Tell What does show don’t tell mean? Good writing tends to draw an image in the reader’s mind instead of just telling the reader what to think or believe.
Here’s a sentence that tells. Mr. Bobweave was a fat, ungrateful old man. That gets the information across, but it is BORING.
A sentence that shows… Mr. Bobweave heaved himself out of the chair. As his feet spread under his apple-like frame and his arthritic knees popped and cracked in objection, he pounded the floor with his cane while cursing that dreadful girl who was late again with his coffee. The writer didn’t tell Mr. Bobweave was fat, he showed it by saying his “apple-like” frame.
How can you show your ideas? Use metaphors and similes: She landed under the window like a falling leaf. Use quoted language: bits of conversation can enliven your writing. Know when to quit: If you think your readers would like a little more, write the little bit more and then delete it.