DESCRIPTIVE WRITING OBSERVATION • Good writing comes from close observation of people, places, objects, and even our own feelings and emotions. • Your assessment will requires you to write a descriptive/narrative piece based on a picture of your choice. You will eventually add this description into another piece later this trimester—so choose wisely. What follows are some examples of descriptive writing which will assist you in responding to that genre more effectively. WHAT IS DESCRIPTIVE WRITING? The moon with its wisps of white light hung suspended in the frosty air over the still, quiet countryside. He could see in all directions, from the majestic outcrop of mountains to the vast ocean on the other. WOW!! The reader can certainly SEE the moon and the countryside. Notice the images of color and shape. Descriptive writing focuses on observation, is static, and paints pictures with words. HERE’S ANOTHER EXAMPLE: In a large box out in the garage, surrounded by gumboots, shovels and old paint tins, is a scene of joy. The happy mother lies on a tatty red and yellow blanket, her litter at her belly. She licks them, and looks up with watchful brown eyes when we bend over to see. The tiny puppies, blind and almost hairless, scramble over one another, searching for their mother. • What brings this scene to life? • Write down the words that help the reader visualize this scene. AN EXAMPLE OF HOW WE OBSERVE PEOPLE – AT THE DISCO. The girls stand in nervous clusters, wearing their name brand gear – Rip Curl, Esprit, Billabong, tight tops with string straps. Little black numbers. The guys have on their best Levis, T shirts, gelled hair. The air is full of noise, booming so loud you can’t hear a word. Rainbow colored spots cut through the haze of smoke like searchlights, picking up the silhouettes of dancing girls. The boys lean against the walls, sipping Coke, watching, or moving across to chat someone up. Later, in small groups, they’ll pour out into the night street, heading for McDonalds and the scent of hot fries. A good night out. Try it yourself • Write about people at the mall, on the train, bus, or at the beach. • Make sure you use descriptive language so that everyone can visualize what you’re writing, and get a sense of the atmosphere. Word Power • Descriptive writing is writing with flair. It means using words so that they paint a picture for the reader, but doing so in ways that often surprise the reader. Here are some of the tools available to you: Similes Comparisons using the words “like” or “as” ( simile) • The surface of the moon is like crumpled sandpaper • I felt as nervous as a fish out of water • As clear as crystal Metaphors Comparisons minus cue words • • • • My tears were a river I died with embarrassment Her heart was on fire He hit the wall of exhaustion Adjectives Words which describe or modify nouns • The tall, thin man entered the spooky room with measured steps. Inside the room deep shadows crouched in wait for him. Adverbs Words which describe or modify verbs • The jets dived steeply out of the sky, tumbling rapidly as they maneauvered gracefully past each other. • USE ADVERBS TO DESCRIBE A FIREWORKS DISPLAY. (1 – 2 SENTENCES) Interesting verbs • It is worthwhile taking the time to think about the verb for the situation you are trying to bring to life. Often a carefully chosen verb can transform a so-so passage into something quite different. • He ran. • He jogged. • He fled. • He sprinted away. • He stormed off. TASK • Rewrite the following passage, changing each verb to a more interesting one. You might like to check your thesaurus, but be careful of your choice of words: • The teacher waved at the coach to stop the game. However the coach was interested in the play and didn’t do as suggested. Surprised by this response, the teacher took the opportunity to yell out, ‘STOP!’ CHARACTER, PLACE AND ACTION • The best descriptions have a focus. They aren’t just lists of everything in the scene thrown together. Try concentrating on character – bring it to life! Their jeans brushed the polished floor, scuffed running shoes squeaking in unison as the two teenagers crossed the crowded space from the music shop to the food court. One of them, her hair -jagged tufts of red and green, smirked at the looks of disbelief the pointy stud in her bottom lip drew. The other, eyes narrowed and searching, curled his lip in a silent snarl, reached deep into the pockets of his black coat and pulled out a crumpled shopping list. The girl walked with a swagger that suggested she was not to be crossed. Her eyes were pin-points, and her nostrils flared with disdain at what she saw around her: losers. Everyone round her was a loser, and nothing would change that. ANOTHER TASK • PRACTICE WRITING A DESCRIPTIVE PARAGRAPH ABOUT AN EMOTION, PLACE OR EVENT YOU FROM ONE OF YOUR POEMS. YOUR ASSIGNMENT: • For your portfolio: – Select a picture or scene from a magazine, or your life. (a real picture you can turn in with your assignment) – Write a descriptive passage that contains at least 3 metaphors, 2 similes, and multiple adjectives, adverbs, verbs, and uses of figurative language. – If your picture has people in it—bring them to life! – You will incorporate this into a larger piece later this trimester—so choose carefully. – This is due—FINAL FORM on Friday, January 14!!