DESCRIPTIVE ESSAY - Luzerne County Community College

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DESCRIPTIVE
ESSAY
2
ASSIGNMENT
To describe a familiar object utilizing
SENSE DETAILS only (sight, sound, smell, taste,
touch);
To describe only the physical characteristics;
To appeal to the senses; to use concrete details
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TOPICS
1) Your dorm room or bedroom (the room in your
home where you spend the most time);
2) Your automobile;
3) Your favorite place visited (funhouse, park,
arena, beach, woods)
INTRODUCTION
PURPOSE of INTRODUCTORY PARAGRAPHS
1) To INTRODUCE your subject
2) To IDENTIFY your central issue (thesis)
3) To ENGAGE the reader’s attention/interest
4) To PLOT the path of the essay:
 state purpose,
 justify argument,
 mention ideas forthcoming,
 establish order of those ideas
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INTRODUCTION
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How to Write a Proper Introduction
Generalize First:
Do not just jump into your topic
Ease into the conversation
GQ’S:
Generalization
Quote
Quip
Question
Statistic
 Introduce your subject and then narrow to your
particular topic with its specific focus (THESIS)
INTRODUCTION
“FUNNEL EFFECT”
This “narrowing” process is a form of
DEDUCTIVE Reasoning, moving from the
general to the specific.
It allows the writer to introduce a subject,
focus on a particular topic, and express a thesis
on that narrowed topic in a concise statement.
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INTRODUCTION
“FUNNEL EFFECT”
From this specific thesis statement, the writer
then begins the process of supporting his/her
claim throughout the body of the essay.
All of this is good for the reader, who can easily
follow the train of thought, can establish
accurate expectations, and can know exactly
where the essay is going.
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INTRODUCTION
“FUNNEL EFFECT”
I have termed this deductive process the
“FUNNEL EFFECT”
Here, the writer slowly narrows and logically
progresses towards his/her thesis statement.
The transition then to the first Body paragraph
is seamless, moving from the thesis statement
to the first means of support (e.g., reason)
Visually, it looks like this…
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INTRODUCTION
FUNNEL EFFECT
THESIS
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INTRODUCTION
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FUNNEL EFFECT: EXAMPLES
1) Owning a car these days is a necessity, for
none more than the community college
student. (OR) Everybody needs a car these
days, especially students at a community
college. Looking around the parking lot at
Luzerne County Community College, I usually
see three types of cars: the new, high-end
graduation-gift cars, the modified sports cars,
and the run-down first cars. Unfortunately, my
car is one of the latter.... (thesis with clear
Dominant Impression: My gray 1986
Oldsmobile Omega is a Bondo Buggy, especially
in terms of its exterior, interior, and trunk.)
INTRODUCTION
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FUNNEL EFFECT: EXAMPLES
2) Most people have a place to go to feel
refreshed when life gets too tough. (OR) Most
people have a place they visit to get away from
everyday life. It could be a car, a place in
nature, or a room at home. For me it is my
bedroom. (then comes the thesis with clearly
stated Dominant Impression)
INTRODUCTION
12
FUNNEL EFFECT: EXAMPLES
3) Each of us has seen a trashy car, maybe even
in our own driveways.
4) Everyone today needs some sort of
transportation. However, on a college student’s
salary, that does not always work out to be the
most attractive car. For instance, my car should
be pictured in the dictionary next to the word
“junker.”
INTRODUCTION
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THESIS STATEMENT
Comes at the end of the first paragraph
(“Funnel Effect”)
TOPIC + MAIN IDEA + SUPPORT
General Example:
Metallica (topic) is my favorite band (main idea)
because of their lyrics, their live shows, and
their distinctive sound (3 means of support).
INTRODUCTION
14
THESIS STATEMENT
Example of a Thesis Statement for the Descriptive
essay:
 Three aspects of my car that make it a junker
are the front seat, the back seat, and the trunk.
Contains the Dominant Impression (“junker”)
and the aspects of your object that support it.
INTRODUCTION
DOMINANT IMPRESSION
*CHARACTERISTICS of a Dominant Impression:
 *ADJECTIVE or NOUN*
 Declared in thesis statement
 Unifying or controlling aspect; this will link all
of your sense details.
 Without this, your details are like marbles
without a jar.
 The first adjective that comes to mind when
you think of your car.
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DOMINANT
IMPRESSION
SENSE DETAIL
SENSE DETAIL
SENSE DETAIL
ALL SENSE DETAILS RELATE TO & SUPPORT DOMINANT IMPRESSION
INTRODUCTION
DOMINANT IMPRESSION
*HOW TO CREATE a Dominant Impression:
Write the 5 senses on a blank sheet of paper
with room beneath each to write;
Then, list as many details that appeal to a
particular sense under its name;
Go from the front of the car to the back & from
the outside to the inside;
Then, see which details are related to each
other, that paint a similar picture of the object,
and group them together;
What these details relate to will be your
Dominant Impression.
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INTRODUCTION
DOMINANT IMPRESSION: EXAMPLES
ROOM:
oasis of peace,
tranquil refuge,
feminine/masculine,
reflects personality (*you must briefly define
your personality; use the appropriate adjective
before the word “personality”: creative
personality, artistic temperament),
reflects my musical tastes,
disaster area,
pig sty
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INTRODUCTION
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DOMINANT IMPRESSION: EXAMPLES
CAR:
total embarrassment, Bondo Buggy,
off-road monster,
Junk Mobile,
typical college student’s (in terms of mess,
neglect, ...),
typical first car (in terms of price, efficiency...),
“The Black Beauty,” “The Polar Bear”
giant toy, sporty car, Daddy’s car,
accessorized car (“Pimp My Ride”) (tricked out)
INTRODUCTION
Helpful Websites When Writing Introductions
http://www.gmu.edu/departments/
writingcenter/handouts/introcon.html
http://www.taft.cc.ca.us/newTC/Academic/
LiberalArts/OWL/INTRO.HTML
http://web.mit.edu/writing/Writing_Types/
introstrategies.html
http://depts.gallaudet.edu/englishworks/
writing/introconslu.html
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INTRODUCTION
By the END of the INTRODUCTORY PARAGRAPH,
the reader should know exactly:
What your thesis is;
How you will support your thesis;
How you will order that support;
What type of essay you are writing;
What your purpose is for writing on this
particular topic;
INTRODUCTION
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3 FINAL HINTS TO GET STARTED
1) FREEWRITING:
Just start writing. Give yourself ten minutes and
write whatever comes to mind. Do not worry
about spelling, grammar, or punctuation. Do
not even worry if you text makes sense; just
write. Once you are done at the end of the ten
minutes, then you can read what you have
written, searching for the proverbial diamond
in the rough, that redeemable idea with which
to begin your essay.
INTRODUCTION
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3 FINAL HINTS TO GET STARTED
2) WRITE THE BODY FIRST:
Rather than not writing a word because you are
having difficulty writing the Introduction, start
by writing the Body of the essay first. This way,
you at least have something written. When you
are done with the bulk of the paper, return the
Introduction and Conclusion paragraphs.
Perhaps something arose in the Body that
suggests a way to begin and end the paper, or
perhaps a context logically follows from what
you wrote. If you are still stuck, ask ME.
INTRODUCTION
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3 FINAL HINTS TO GET STARTED
3) WORKING BACKWARDS FROM THE THESIS
STATEMENT:
What is your THESIS?
topic + main idea + support
My favorite types of video games include
first-person shooters, stealth-action
games, and fantasy games.
What is your TOPIC? (video games)
What CATEGORY would your topic fall under?
(hobbies, spare time, recreation)
INTRODUCTION
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3 FINAL HINTS TO GET STARTED
*Now GENERALIZE on this CATEGORY.
Everybody has a hobby with which to occupy
his/her spare time. Some people enjoy playing
sports, like running, basketball, and hockey, and
others prefer non-physical recreation, such as
chess and painting.
Then narrow towards you. (For me, my favorite
hobby is playing video games. My bedroom is
littered with all types of games, from sports to
superhero games.)
Lastly comes your thesis. (However, my favorite
types of video games include first-person
shooters, stealth-action games, and fantasy
games)
EverybodySome peopleMeThesis
BODY: DO’s
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Qualities of a Strong Descriptive Essay
1)*** DESCRIBE—DO NOT LIST!!
 Describe items found in your car/room;
 Lists do not describe; lists are more exemplary
than descriptive;
 This is a descriptive essay using sense details,
not an illustrative essay using reasons;
 Show rather than tell
BODY
OTHER CHARACTERISITICS OF A STRONG
DESCRIPTIVE ESSAY
2) SENSE DETAILS only:
appeal to 5 senses, not just sight
number, size, shape, texture, material,
odor/scent, taste, sound
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BODY
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OTHER CHARACTERISITICS OF A STRONG
DESCRIPTIVE ESSAY
3) SIMILES & METAPHORS:
use similes & metaphors to reinforce your D.I.
EX: “The smell is like…” OR “The smell reminds
me of wet, moldy leaves soaking in a crammed
rain gutter for a month. (not a pleasing D.I.)
rust=cancer, leprosy, flesh-eating bacteria;
“angry red beast:” headlights= giant glaring
eyes, grill=hungry chrome jaws, bumper=chin
with battle scars (continue the metaphor
throughout, only those details that support
“beastly”)
BODY
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OTHER CHARACTERISITICS OF A STRONG
DESCRIPTIVE ESSAY
4) Relate all SENSE DETAILS to your DOMINANT
IMPRESSION:
Repeat Thesis: “Another aspect of my room that
makes it a pig sty is ...” (at start of paragraph)
ADJECTIVES and ADVERBS that are
synonymous with your Dominant Impression
ADJ: busy=hectic, energetic, bustling,
crowded, swarming, packed, jammed,
overrun, popular, populous, active, lively
BODY
OTHER CHARACTERISITICS OF A STRONG
DESCRIPTIVE ESSAY
5) Use TRANSITIONS:
between sentences (logically or spatially
connect details in each sentence) AND
between paragraphs (repeat thesis)
6) Use proper PN REFERENCE:
*especially when generalizing in Introduction
 Everyone has a place he/she could call his/her
own. (see how the use of “he/she” gets old
fast—so go plural: Most people have a place
they could call their own.)
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BODY
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OTHER CHARACTERISITICS OF A STRONG
DESCRIPTIVE ESSAY
7)DICTION—use creative, selective, and pointed
details & words (employ concrete/specific word
choice)
8) Include an INTRODUCTION (see above) and a
CONCLUSION (see below or consult the
textbook)
9) Have a CLEAR VISION of the object (best to
visit the place you will describe)
BODY
OTHER CHARACTERISITICS OF A STRONG
DESCRIPTIVE ESSAY
10) Have a CAREFUL SELECTION of DETAILS
only those that support your DI
11) Maintain a consistent point-of-view (POV)
no second person POV “you”
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BODY
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OTHER CHARACTERISITICS OF A STRONG
DESCRIPTIVE ESSAY
12) Develop a logical flow of ideas/details
COHERENCE
“camera angle”
13) *REMEMBER:
this is NOT a “why” or “because” essay which
is supported with reasons
instead, use aspect, feature, characteristic,
portion
BODY
TAKE THE HINT
SENSE DETAILS ONLY
 ONLY THOSE SENSE DETAILS THAT SUPPORT
YOUR DOMINANT IMPRESSION
IF ANY DETAIL DOES NOT SUPPORT YOUR
DOMINANT IMPRESSION—NO MATTER HOW
“COOL” OR INTERESTING IT MAY BE—OMIT
IT FROM THIS ESSAY
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SENSE
DETAIL
35
SENSE
DETAIL
SENSE
DETAIL
SENSE
DETAIL
SENSE
DETAIL
DOMINANT
IMPRESSION
SENSE
DETAIL
LISTS
SENSE
DETAIL
SENSE
DETAIL
SENSE
DETAIL
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BODY: DON’Ts
1) ***DO NOT LIST items found in your
car/room; this does not describe; lists are
more exemplary than descriptive (this is a
descriptive essay using sense details, not an
illustrative essay using reasons) (show rather
than tell)
2) Do NOT just throw ideas onto the page; make
sure you have a Dominant Impression -- a
clear purpose, a point; be a movie director and
limit what you want the audience to see, to
see it/them from your perspective
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BODY: DON’Ts
3) Do NOT describe attributes, feelings,
personality (these are not sense details)
4) Do NOT use pat expressions/clichés (rough
around the edges), contractions (I’ve, it’s), poor
diction (“things,” “a lot”), or abbreviations
(especially CD=compact disc)
5) *NUMBERS: 3+ syllables/numerals=350, 1 or
2 syllables/numerals=six, twenty-five;
year =1998, 2005)
CONCLUSION
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PURPOSE of CONCLUDING PARAGRAPHS
To stress the importance/relevance of your
thesis (SO WHAT?!)
To repeat your purpose
To repeat your thesis (moral, point, lesson,
Dominant Impression)
To repeat your main ideas
To give the essay a sense of
completeness/finality
To leave the reader with a final impression
(*this is your last chance to convince/persuade
the reader, so make the most of it!)
CONCLUSION
SUGGESTIONS
Discuss in full the lesson learned
Suggest larger implications of your findings
Suggest future papers or research
Refer back to your purpose and/or scenario
mentioned in your Introduction
Pose rhetorical questions
Offer a 3rd side to the issue
End with a CLINCHER SENTENCE
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CONCLUSION
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CLINCHER SENTENCE
Just as you ended each Body paragraph with a
concluding sentence that wrapped up that
point/paragraph, so too will you end the entire
essay
(Thesis Statement : Topic Sentence :: Clincher
Sentence : Paragraph Clincher Sentence)
Avoid the empty cliché
Wrap it all up
Relate to your point (for example, if you wrote
a process paper on making a PB&J sandwich,
end by saying that you are now hungry for one)
CONCLUSION
Helpful Websites When Writing Conclusions
http://www.gmu.edu/departments/
writingcenter/handouts/introcon.html
http://depts.gallaudet.edu/englishworks/
writing/introconslu.html
http://www.unc.edu/depts/wcweb/handouts
conclusions.html
http://leo.stcloudstate.edu/acadwrite/
conclude.html
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BEDROOM #1
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BEDROOM #2
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BEDROOM #3
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CAR #1
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CAR #2
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CAR #3
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CAR #4
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