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Show & Tell

Descriptive writing
by

Mark Kozma

on 8 April 2013

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Transcript of Show & Tell

What you probably did was list or describe the items. This is telling.

Descriptive writing is about showing and not telling.

More clearly, it is the clear description of people, places, objects, or events using appropriate details. An effective description will contain sufficient and varied elaboration of details to communicate a sense of the subject being described. Details used are usually sensory and selected to describe what the writer sees, hears, smells, touches, and tastes. Strategies to help you craft a good description:
1.Establish intent. (How do you want your reader to feel?) It might help to focus on one word like disaster or comfortable.
2.Choose 3 details to help create the intended feeling for your reader.
3.Don’t skip stones going from one detail to another without letting the detail sink into your reader.
4.Make sure the focus of your description remains on the effect you want to have on the reader.
5.Show!! Don’t Tell! Replace linking verbs (is, are, were) with action verbs as much as possible.
6.Use figurative language.
7.Use exaggeration. (Stretch the facts to show the reader.)
8.Be specific, not general. Use a particular occasion, event, or time frame to make your writing more vivid. (Describe the lake behind your house on a fall day, rather than on just any day. Describe the mall on a birthday trip. Describe Hawaii on a particular vacation, rather than Hawaii in general.) Show & Tell Descriptive writing What do you see? Write down what you see in this image. What do you see? Write down what you see in this image. Share what you wrote down with your neighbor to your right or left (on the same side of the group).

What do you think the object is? Descriptive prompts can be tricky. Don’t catalog or list details. It seems like they may want you to make a list of the answers to the different parts of the questions. Don’t fall for it. If you don’t have a purpose and you just make a list of what you hear, see, feel, taste, etc. using telling sentences, it WILL be boring!

Ask yourself 2 questions to help you decide on the intent for your descriptive writing.
1.How do I feel about the subject?
2.What effect do I want to have on my reader? (How do I want my reader to feel about the subject when they are finished reading my description?) What do you see? Write down what you see in this image. What do you see? Write down what you see in this image. What do you feel? Write down what our volunteer says. What do you smell? Write down what our volunteer says. What do you hear? Write down what you hear. What do you taste? Write down what our volunteer says. Fatigued, but satisfied, we headed down with a gentle breeze caressing our skin. The treetops stretched out below before us like a bed of multi-colored cotton candy clouds. Stoically standing guard beyond and framing our view was Bishop Hill to the west. Even though the sun warmed our faces, the chill of the rocks and snow beyond caused me to shiver. The challenge of the crested tops called to me and brazenly told me that our trip was only going to get more challenging as we progressed. We climbed over jagged rocks and through unstable winding paths for arduous miles. Any false step engendered a treacherous tumble towards a craggy and spiked landing place for your hands, or worse, your face. As our feet grew heavy, we mopped our faces with kerchiefs and bandanas sopping with our sweat as the air changed from a cool ocean breeze to an oppressive blanket surrounding us. The gentle rise and fall of the waves slowly transformed itself into a soft rumble, and then to an uneven and cranky quaking as we approached the final bend in our march. The gasps of those in front were mimicked by each as they crested the mound and saw the fiery dance of lava at the top of Kilauea.
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