Description of a Place Introduction A Writers Checklist
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Description of a Place Introduction A Writer’s Checklist Choosing a place to describe Gathering descriptive details Including your thoughts and feelings Focusing on a dominant impression Arranging details A Writer’s Model Your Turn: Describe a place
Introduction Is there a place that is special to you? You can describe this place in a descriptive essay so that others can discover it too.
Introduction How does your special place look? Are there sounds or smells associated with it? How does it make you feel? If you carefully choose the descriptive details in your essay, you can paint a vivid picture of your special place in your readers’ minds.
A Writer’s Checklist When you write a description of a place, you should: q Choose a place that would make an interesting subject for description. q Use a variety of descriptive details to show the place looks, sounds, smells, and feels. q Include your thoughts and feelings about the place. q Focus on a dominant impression of the place. q Arrange details in spatial order or by order of importance.
Choosing a place to describe Start by choosing a place to write about. As you consider possibilities, focus on: places that you know well places that you can visit, observe, and experience yourself places that are not too big to describe in detail
Choosing a place to describe Next, choose one place that stands out from the others and that you feel would be most interesting to write about and read about. Places I know well • our backyard • not interesting • the skateboard park • might be interesting only to skateboarders • Peachtree Mall • interesting; lots of people go there
Gathering descriptive details Gather the descriptive details you need through observation, recall, or research. If possible, directly observe the place you plan to describe. Watch what happens there, and take notes. Use all of your senses in your observation, and try to record details for all five senses.
Gathering descriptive details If you are describing a place that you remember but cannot revisit, you must recall details. Shut your eyes and concentrate on creating a mental picture of the place, including details for all five senses.
Gathering descriptive details You can also do research to get more information about a place. You can read about the place, interview people who have been there, and so on.
Gathering descriptive details You will use a variety of descriptive details in your description. The basic types of details that writers of descriptive essays use are: sensory details factual details figurative details unique features thoughts & feelings
Gathering descriptive details Sensory details appeal to the five senses—sight, hearing, touch, taste, and smell. Include details from as many senses as you can in your descriptive paper. The smell of the crisp bacon popping on the rusty old camp stove made my mouth water.
Gathering descriptive details Factual details are things such as dates, names, numbers, quotations, and true statements. Using factual details grounds your description in reality. On sunny afternoons in the spring, members of the high school track team practice jumping hurdles in preparation for the annual spring track meet.
Gathering descriptive details Figurative details include similes, metaphors, and examples of personification. A simile compares two unlike things using the words like or as. The warm beach sun wrapped around us like a cozy blanket.
Gathering descriptive details A metaphor says that one thing is another, without using the words like or as. The wind was an ocean wave, battering the tree branches in the forest. Personification describes something nonhuman, such as an animal or object, as if it were human by giving it human qualities. The lonely ship’s horn gave its mournful cry in the foggy night.
Gathering descriptive details Including your thoughts and feelings Descriptive writing is often subjective writing, so it should include your own perceptions and feelings. Include specific details that show your thoughts and feelings about the place you have chosen to describe. Peachtree Mall is one of my favorite places to people-watch because it is always buzzing with a diverse group of people. specific thought Even though the mall is pulsing with activity, I am relaxed and enjoying myself. specific feeling
Gathering descriptive details After you have recorded a list of details about the place, you should read over your list carefully. Then choose only the details that you want to include. Make sure you have a variety of details. Have you repeated yourself? Do you have a balance between sensory, figurative and factual details? Have you included specific details that illustrate your thoughts and feelings?
Gathering descriptive details Lucia is planning to write a description of the Peachtree Mall. Here is a log listing her descriptive details: • Sensory details • • • Factual • details • • Figurative • details • • Descriptive Detail Log Unique feature: mall walkers of all ages. Filled with the sounds of the hurried footfalls of the walkers echoing on cold marble floors. Crowded escalators. Shoppers of diverse racial and cultural backgrounds. The mall was built in 1992. There are over 5, 000 visitors to the mall each day. The mall is as cold as a penguin habitat because of the overdone air conditioning. Thought/feeling: The mall walkers walk so rapidly, pumping their arms, that they look like funny little chickens. The mall is extremely crowded with a variety of people.
Focusing on a dominant impression After organizing your descriptive details, focus on the dominant impression. A dominant impression is a kind of main idea to which all of your descriptive details point. Dominant Impression Descriptive Details You may not state a dominant impression explicitly, but it should be clear to readers of your description.
Focusing on a dominant impression A good method for figuring out the dominant impression of your descriptive paper is to: 1) Jot down some descriptive details of the place you have chosen. Then look at how the details you have collected are related to one another. • Mall walkers of all ages • Over 5, 000 visitors each day • Shoppers of many different racial and cultural backgrounds • Noisy • Lots of clothing stores • Smells from food court of many types of ethnic cuisine • Cold marble floors • Crowded escalators
Focusing on a dominant impression 2) Identify at least one descriptive thread that runs through your assembled details. I have included several details about the mall being very crowded and busy with people from a variety of racial and cultural backgrounds.
Focusing on a dominant impression 3) Write down a sentence that clearly states a dominant impression based on the descriptive details that you have identified. If I had to the describe the Peachtree Mall and what it means to me in a few phrases, it would be bustling and crowded with a variety of people from diverse backgrounds.
Arranging details Arrange the details of your descriptive paper in an order that supports the dominant impression and shows a logical progression of your ideas. There are two common ways to arrange details: spatial order and order of importance. Spatial order top to bottom, bottom to top left to right, right to left near to far, far to near inside to outside, outside to inside Order of importance • 1 • 2 • 3 • 4
Arranging details Spatial order, or ordering details according to how they are arranged in space, is used mostly with details which concern sight. You could describe how the place you have chosen to write about looks from a distance and then zoom in and describe how it looks up close. far away up close
Arranging details Order of importance is a good method to use when you have some details that are more important than others. You can start with your least important details and build up to your most important details or the other way around. least important next important most important next important least important
A Writer’s Checklist Use the checklist as you look at the following Writer’s Model and then evaluate and revise your own description of a place: q Choose a place that would make an interesting subject for description. q Use a variety of descriptive details to show the place looks, sounds, smells, and feels. q Include your thoughts and feelings about the place. q Focus on a dominant impression of the place. q Arrange details in spatial order or by order of importance.
The Peachtree Mall Do you enjoy watching people? People have fascinated me ever since I was a small girl, and I love to observe them. One of my favorite places to people-watch is the Peachtree Mall. Diversity, bustle, and a jumble of activity permeate the place. Everywhere I go offers a new sensory treat. interesting opening thoughts and feelings dominant impression
A person visiting the Peachtree Mall for the first time might notice, among the bustling variety of people, the regular group of morning mall walkers. As they walk up and down and around they move so rapidly and pump their arms so furiously that they look like funny little chickens. With over 5, 000 visitors to the mall each day, there is an amazing assortment of different, entertaining people to watch. sensory details figurative detail factual detail
Sitting in the food court of the mall, I can detect the scent of pizza, drifting from an Italian restaurant. I watch as a young mother, waiting in line for fast food, struggles to get the jacket off of her squirming toddler, who looks like a tiny bundled Eskimo. Suddenly, a businessman wearing a three-piece pin-stripe suit rushes past me on a lunchtime errand so quickly that I can literally feel a blast of air pass by with him. sensory and factual details figurative detail sensory details
As I leave the food court area and take the crowded escalator to the lower level, I notice a group of young teenage girls, gathered around a cell phone, looking intently at the phone. One of the girls squeals excitedly. She is dressed almost entirely in pink. She is a Pepto-Bismol bottle, and I feel slightly nauseated looking at her. Fortunately, there are plenty of other people to watch. sensory details figurative detail thoughts and feelings
Stepping off the escalator and on to the lower level, I notice a creepy clown in the courtyard area, which contains benches for tired shoppers. Bozo is trying to charm the cranky children and tired mothers gathered there. One small child screams and buries her face in her mother’s shirt front, trying to escape Bozo. It appears that the child actually believes that if she can’t see the clown, then he can’t see her. factual detail sensory details
After many captivating and entertaining visits I now take it for granted that there will be an intriguing person or group of people to watch at Peachtree Mall. It is a bustling place, with thousands of visitors every day. If you find yourself getting bored sitting in one place, you can simply look in another direction or take a short walk and find a whole new scene to interest you. wrap-up and conclusion
Your Turn: Describe a place Respond to one of the prompts below by writing a descriptive essay about a place. Remember to use the Writer’s Checklist and Writer’s Model as guidelines when writing your paper. Write a description of a favorite outdoor location. Write a description of your favorite place to relax.