What is description? Appeals to one or more of the five senses (sensory details) Tries to create a specific impression or feeling Works to help audience vividly experience what you are writing about
Planning your essay Introduction Provide background on your subject Place us in the setting of your description Provide the dominant impression that you want to convey in your essay (this is the thesis of the descriptive piece)
Dominant Impression Overall attitude, mood, or feeling about the subject Implied thesis of the descriptive essay This is your point—define it clearly (write what you know!)
Planning your essay cont’d Body Describe your subject using sensory details and/or comparisons. Conclusion Revisit your dominant impression Logically wrap up the ideas in your essay – don’t leave loose ends. **Have a clear vantage point**
Vantage Point Do you want a fixed or moving vantage point for describing your object? Fixed: from one position Moving: various positions What vantage point(s) will give your reader the most useful information? From which vantage point(s) can you provide the most revealing or striking details? The vantage point is like your perspective in the piece. Think of it as a camera for the reader.
Sensory Details Sight Sound Smell Taste Touch Make a chart to track your details.
Sentences Come Alive Active Verbs Use active verbs rather than adverbs to create “striking and lasting impressions” (148). What is the effect of the revision on the reader’s understanding of the event? Examples The team captain proudly accepted the award. The team captain marched to the podium, grasped the trophy, and gestured toward his teammates.
Connotative Language Words have subtle variations in meaning Select words that strengthen your dominant impression. SkinnySvelteSlimScrawny CellarBasement
Uses Comparison Simile Biting into a tabasco pepper is like aiming a flame-thrower at your parted lips Metaphor Eating chili peppers is a descent into a fiery hell.
Uses Comparison Personification The television screen stared back at me.
Methods of Organization Spatial FrontBackMiddle BehindBetweenTo the left Next toAboveBelow NearFar awayNorth SouthEastWest Chronological FirstNextThen BeforeAfterLater Describe a subject from top to bottom, inside to outside, near to far away, from a central focal point outward.
Methods of Organization Least to MostMost to Least
“Eating Chili Peppers” pp. 144-146 Read the sample carefully. What is the dominant impression? What is the vantage point? What method of organization does the author use? What language appears to be particularly effective?
Brainstorm Look at each of the prompts for your descriptive essay. For each prompt, brainstorm as many topics as you can think of. You will use this list to help you come up with an idea for your descriptive essay.
Your turn Take your list of topics and narrow down to one. What attitude, mood, or feeling do you want to create about your subject? List sensory details that would help you to create this dominant impression. Use the scaffold to help you outline your topic.
Next Class Complete the scaffold to help you outline the body of your essay. Draft the introduction of your essay.