Saturday, March 14, 2020

Composing Descriptive Paragraphs and Essays

Composing Descriptive Paragraphs and Essays The purpose of descriptive writing is to make our readers see, feel, and hear what we have seen, felt, and heard. Whether were describing a person, a place, or a thing, our aim is to reveal a subject through vivid, carefully arranged details. Two common forms of description are the character sketch (or profile) and the place description. In describing a character, we look for details that not only show what an individual looks like but also provide clues to his or her personality. Eudora Weltys Sketch of Miss Duling (a precise physical description of a first-grade teacher) and Mark Singers Profile of Mr. Personality (a description of the only member of the Goodnicks of America) are just two of the paragraph-length character sketches linked below. With thoughtfully organized details, we can also suggest the personalityor moodof a place. Below youll find links to several place descriptions, including Wallace Stegners Town Dump and a students essay on her Home of Yesteryear. For ideas on how to compose your own descriptive paragraph or essay, spend some time studying the guidelines, topic suggestions, exercises, and readings offered here. Description: Writing Guidelines and Topic Suggestions How to Write a Descriptive ParagraphDiscovery Strategy: Probing Your TopicPractice in Supporting a Topic Sentence With Descriptive DetailsDraft a Descriptive ParagraphPractice in Revising a Place DescriptionEssay Assignment: Profile40 Topic Suggestions for Descriptive Paragraphs and Essays Description: Sentence Combining Exercises Nervous NormanRolling Along With Mr. BillThe KitchenMy Home of Yesteryear Descriptive Paragraphs: Place Description Model Descriptive ParagraphsEach of these four descriptive paragraphs (three student paragraphs along with a paragraph by Maxine Hong Kingston) responds in its own way to the guidelines in How to Write a Descriptive Paragraph.Model Place DescriptionsAs you read these four paragraphs, notice how place signals help to establish cohesion, guiding the reader clearly from one detail to the next.Descriptive Details in Stegners Town DumpIn these five paragraphs from his memoir Wolf Willow, Stegner employs precise descriptive details to convey the poetry of a town dump.David Sedariss Description of a Nudist Trailer ParkIn this excerpt from his essay Naked, an account of a week-long visit to a nudist colony, Sedaris describes his living quarters and the surrounding neighborhood.Joseph Mitchells Place Description: McSorleys SaloonMitchell describes New York Citys oldest Irish tavern in a series of clearly arranged sentences, many of them short and deceptively simple yet always precise and evoc ative. Lists in William Least Heat-Moons Place DescriptionIn this passage from Blue Highways, William Least Heat-Moon describes a cafe in Darlington, South Carolina. Note his reliance on detailed lists to convey a sense of place.Comparison in Sarah Vowells Place DescriptionSarah Vowell conveys distinct impressions of her father and herself by describingand comparingtheir different work spaces at home.Edgar Allan Poes New York in the 1840sNote Poes attention to details of place and the ways that his descriptions evoke a melancholic mood.Character Sketch by John McPheeJohn McPhee combines vivid descriptions with direct quotations in this sketch of a schoolteacher who works in a public market during summer vacations.Willie Morriss Descriptive NarrativeIn this passage from his memoir North Toward Home, Morris relies on concrete details that both record and interpret a shocking experience. Descriptive Paragraphs: Character Sketches and Profiles Eudora Weltys Sketch of Miss DulingWeltys precise physical description of her first-grade teacher, Miss Duling, also provides insights into the character of this lifelong subscriber to perfection.John Lahrs Profile of David MametThis paragraph has been drawn from the conclusion of Lahrs lengthy profile of David Mamet. Notice how the description of the cabin where the playwright works, the references to the books on his table, and the brief quotations from Mamets sister and from Mamet himself all serve to reveal aspects of character.Mark Singers Profile of Mr. PersonalityMark Singer describes the founder and at the moment the only member of an organization called the Goodnicks of America.Russell Bakers Sketch of Mr. FleagleIn this description of his high school English teacher, journalist Russell Baker relies on repetition to convey an overwhelming impression of dullness.Status Details in Tom Wolfes DescriptionsIn these two paragraphs from the novel A Man in Full, Wolfe conveys a sens e of character through physical descriptionor what he calls status details. Description: Classic Essays In Mammoth Cave, by John BurroughsSome of these pits are simply appalling.The Land of Little Rain, by Mary AustinMen are bewitched by it and tempted to try the impossible.The Watercress Girl, by Henry MayhewShe dont often beat me; but, when she do, she dont play with me.Rural Hours, by Susan Fenimore CooperSuch open hill-sides . . . bear a kind of heaving, billowy character.Two Ways of Seeing a River, by Mark TwainAll the grace, the beauty, the poetry had gone out of the majestic river!Street Haunting: A London Adventure, by Virginia WoolfInto each of these lives one could penetrate a little way.On a Rainy Morning, by Charles S. BrooksThere is so much life on wet and windy days.The Rise of Pancho Villa, by John ReedVilla was an outlaw for twenty-two years.The Story of a Garden, by Mabel Osgood WrightNature tangles things with a motive.The Libido for the Ugly, by H. L. MenckenOut of the melting pot emerges a race which hates beauty.

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