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Descriptive Essay

Page history last edited by David Hodges 14 years, 2 months ago


Descriptive Essays for Writing 4


     Description in essays is more than listing the characteristics of a person, place or thing. To be effective, every detail of your description must contribute to an overall impression that serves the purpose of your essay.

     In other words, if I asked you what you meant to accomplish in your essay, "To describe my uncle" would be an insufficient answer, while "To explain how my uncle's kind attentiveness made me appreciate art," would be an excellent reply.

     Follow and contribute to the wiki discussion of "The Ballad of the Sad Cafe" to get ideas about how description contributes to a mood and affects a reader's understanding of a scene.

     Then write a descriptive essay about a person who influenced you in your youth.

     The influence can be positive of negative. The person you describe can be actual or imagined. The description must include physical attributes but, more importantly, it must describe behavior.

     For example, "he was tall," doesn't mean much coming from a six-year-old, and doesn't tell us much about the person anyway. However, "he leaned over from high above me to hoist me up onto the stool alongside him" makes readers feel the relative heights of the character and the narrator and also helps describe character.

     Like every essay you will write for this class, your Descriptive Essay will use more than just one rhetorical strategy; in other words, it will be more than just description. The above example is part description, part narrative, for instance. Since your essay will describe a person who influenced you, it will also use Cause/Effect to show how your subject's behavior and personality influenced yours.


ASSIGNMENT: Descriptive Essay of at least 3 paragraphs.

TOPIC: A Person who influenced you in your youth.

PERSPECTIVE: You may write from your adult perspective, remembering an earlier time or from the perspective of your youthful self as if the events were happening now.

ADVANCE FEEDBACK: Leave me a comment below if you would like to discuss the assignment. I will answer in comments and the entire class can benefit from our conversation.




Comments (2)


at 6:44 pm on May 23, 2010

If I would like to talk about a negative friend.she didn't let me trust any body easily like before.I have to discripe the problem between us.
How can I discripe that? Is it hard discription essay or I change the topic? I need your recommendation, professor Hodges.

David Hodges said

at 9:19 pm on May 23, 2010

You may of course talk about your negative friend, Nora, but your primary rhetorical strategy must be descriptive. As I have indicated, no essay uses just one technique. Be careful, though, not to write a cause/effect essay instead of fulfilling the assignment. Describe the friend, mixing physical description and behavioral description. We should be able to tell from the way you describe her not only how she influenced you, but also whether her influence was intentional. If you need more specific advice, send me an early draft while there's still time for feedback.

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