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Writing a Descriptive-style Profile Essay

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on 3 July 2013

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Transcript of Writing a Descriptive-style Profile Essay

Presents information in a way that appeals to one or more of the senses--sight, sound, smell, taste, touch--to create an overall impression. Too often, though, the writer won't go beyond the surface description, which leaves out a lot more than you'd think.
It's more than just what you
see on the surface

Writing a Descriptive-style Profile Essay
Description Uses Sensory Details
Moving your readers with your words!
Rewrite this advertisement, using the photo to the right as your guide of what the vehicle looks like, by writing in a way that would convince possible buyers to call you.
Description Uses Comparisons
The types of comparison used in descriptive writing:
usually direct & introduced with "like" or "as"--"Biting into a Tabasco pepper is like aiming a flame-thrower directly at your parted lips."
indirect, implying the comparison by describing one thing as if it were actually another thing--"Eating chili peppers is a decent into a pool of molten lava."
figure of speech where an object is given human qualities or characteristics--"The blue screen on my laptop stared at me, taunting me mercilessly."
an extended comparison where one subject is compared to a more familiar one, adding interest to your writing while making it more accessible to your audience--"Now we will compare the word to a seed..."
Suppose you are moving to a city where your apartment doesn't provide parking, making your VW bug more of an inconvenience than a help to you. You put an ad on craigslist: "12-year-old VW bug. $4,550 or best offer. Call 555-2026." Two weeks later, you've had a few calls and no offers. A friend tells you that you need to make the ad more appealing to help your audience see what a unique and wonderful car you have and make them want to contact you.
by using sensory details, your audience gets to experience what you experienced
Sight: describing what something looks like helps your audience to create a mental image of your subject.
Sound: describing what something sounds like helps your readers to have a clearer mental image/idea of your subject. Use onomatopoeia (like hiss, whine, spurt, and sizzle) when you aren't able to describe the actual sound.
Smell: This is one of the more difficult senses to describe because we don't have as many "smell" adjectives as we have for sight and sound. However, if you are able to describe a smell to your audience, your subject will become more realistic and alive to them.
Taste: Words that help the audience imagine how something tastes will make your description lively and interesting.
Touch: When you describe temperature, texture, and weight of a subject it allows your readers to not only visualize the object, subject, or scene but almost experience it themselves
Description Uses Active Verbs and Varied Sentences
Sensory details are best presented with active, vivid verbs and a variety of sentences. For example:
Original: The park was peaceful.
Revised: A pleasant wind floated through the trees and gently rocked the branches. Birds sang pleasantly in a duet with the stream as it gurgled into the pond. The breeze caressed my face, and I detected the scent of the recently bloomed roses with it. I sighed. I love it here.
Let's Practice!
Using sensory details, active verbs and a variety of sentences, describe one of the following objects for 5 minutes.
Do not name the object in your description.
Exchange papers with your classmate, and each of you guess what the object using the details you provided.
A piece of clothing
A food item
An appliance
A machine
A plant or an animal
Description Leaves a Dominant Impression
Your reader should get the impression of an overall attitude, mood, or feeling about your subject, which could be awe, inspiration, anger, distaste:

As I opened the box in the attic, something moved on its own inside. There was no way I was going to stick my hand in there.
Opening the box was like opening a time machine: all my interests and passions (my toys), my achievements (report cards), ideas, dreams, and wishes (notebooks filled with writing and books on various subjects) lay before my eyes.
When I opened the box, I was eight again, playing with my little sister for hours on end and making up more stories than I had
written down.

Note how each sentence has a different "feeling" attached to it.
Be careful how you use connotative words when creating that impression
"Connotative" refers to the feelings and attitudes generally associated with a word as opposed to definitive (which refers to the actual definition). An example of this is how "flag" has a common connotation for "patriotism"--love and respect for a country.
Ways to Organize Description
uses physical positions-top to bottom, left to right, near to far. Or from a central focal point to its surroundings, like how you'd describe campus, starting at the library and stretching out to the outskirts of campus. Spatial order uses either a fixed vantage point (like a stationary camera) or a moving vantage point (like a camera taking pictures from all angles or a camcorder).

describes changes that occur in an object or place over time, like a puppy growing up or the changing of light as the sun sets.

Most-to-least or Least-to-most:
would be used to describe the smells in a flower garden or an orchestra tuning up for a concert.
"Slave" is a good example of descriptive type of profile essay
This will require going "below the surface" of what most writers think of as "description"
Let's go through the steps for creating this type of essay
Here we go!
References: _Successful College Writing_ by Kathleen T. McWhorter & _The Norton Field Guide to Writing_ by Richard Bullock, Maureen Goggin & Francine Weinberg
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