Descriptive Writing Notes


Descriptive Writing Notes

Description presents a verbal portrait of something concrete like a person, place, or thing; or something abstract such as an emotion or quality to make a point. Description is not merely a catalogue of facts or a collection of ornaments; like all expository writing, it must make a point or have a purpose. Specific and vivid details make readers experience the subject, and arranging those details logically helps a reader understand why the subject is interesting and significant.

Good description requires:

Imagery – refers to appealing to the readers’ senses (sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch) to actively involve them in the experience. Selection of details is vital to the effect of the mind picture.

Impressions and observations are arranged in an appropriate pattern designed to capture both detail and wholeness. The writer should strive to use lively language which engages the reader intellectually, emotionally, and where appropriate physically!

Dominant Impression – refers to the overall effect of the piece of writing. Successful impressionistic description focuses on a single dominant impression. From the many details available, the writer selects those which will help to create a mood, atmosphere, reaction; or to emphasise a feature or quality. The amount, type, and word choice of details should be relevant to one’s purpose and audience. Like narration, descriptive writing uses pace to add to or heighten impression.

Position – refers to a chosen slant appropriate to the purpose. Objective positions uses description which is purely factual, uncoloured by any feelings of the writer (e.g. business reports, scientific papers.) Impressionistic or subjective description tinges the factual with the writer’s personal impressions; instead of describing how something is the writer describes how it seems.
Order – refers to the placement and arrangement of information. In description, the writer has more freedom in structure than in other types of exposition, but there must still be some logical orderliness for the sake of readability and effect. Both objective and impressionistic description should be realistic in appropriate degree to achieve its purpose. Visual description is usually spatial. That is presenting the details as the eye would find them on a horizontal plane, vertical plane or in relative distance.

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