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What is descriptive writing? Good descriptive writing includes many vivid details that paint a picture and appeal to all of the reader's senses: sight, hearing, touch, smell and taste when appropriate.
How do we make our writing more descriptive? Good descriptive writing uses precise language. Use specific adjectives and nouns and strong action verbs to give life to the picture you are painting in the reader's mind. SHOW, DON’T TELL.
what's the difference between the “Telling” and “Showing”? Telling: Mary was an old woman. Showing: Mary moved slowly across the room, her hunched form supported by a polished wooden cane gripped in a gnarled, swollenjointed hand that was covered by translucent, liver-spotted skin.
Telling: Alex was an uneducated man. Showing: Alex. "I ain't goin' nowhere, " said
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:
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 maneuvered gracefully past each other.
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.
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.
Here are some examples of good descriptive paragraphs:
Behind one door, Tom Skelton, aged thirteen, stopped and listened. The wind outside nested in each tree, prowled the sidewalks in invisible treads like unseen cats. Tom Skelton shivered. Anyone could see that the wind was a special wind this night, and the darkness took on a special feel because it was All Hallows' Everything seemed cut from soft black velvet or gold or orange velvet. Smoke panted up out of a thousand chimneys like the plumes of funeral parades. From kitchen windows drifted two pumpkin smells: gourds being cut, pies being baked. from The Halloween Tree by Ray Bradbury
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 almost hairless, scramble over one another, searching for their mother.
Show, Don’t Tell Choose one of the “telling” sentences below and re-write it as a descriptive paragraph in your writing duotang, being sure to SHOW what you want to say, rather than TELLING your reader what you mean. The forest was quiet. It was a hot day. I woke up with a bad headache. I was scared. He was nice. The room was crowded. My room is messy. The waterfall was pretty. I am not a morning person. The room was crowded. Her hairstyle is wild.
Author’s circle assignment For next week, you are to find a picture that appeals to you and write a descriptive paragraph about that picture. It could be an interesting person, an event of some kind, a landscape, a picture of a meal – whatever you think you can write about in a way that brings the picture to life for us. You will bring the picture with your paragraph for author’s circle next Tuesday. When we do our author’s circle activity next week, you will be trying to match each descriptive paragraphs with the picture it goes with, as well as commenting on the author’s descriptive writing powers.