Assignment 2: Writing Descriptive Paragraphs
Textbook: The Little Seagull Handbook 2nd Edition by Richard Bullock, Michal Brody, Francine Weinberg (Norton)
Study The Little Seagull Handbook 2nd Edition by Richard Bullock, Michal Brody, Francine Weinberg (Norton) for details about critical thinking, thesis statement, and essay organization. Although these chapters do not discuss descriptive writing,they discuss other methods that can enhance descriptive writing–how to choose a topic and how to expand a topic into an essay. Your descriptive paragraphs are mini essays in a sense that each has a central point to convey. For example, “the impressive setting of Aunt Jones’ kitchen caused me to want to be a chef” is intended to convey the point that the kitchen is an attractive one.
Select 4 different subjects and write a descriptive paragraph of at least 500 words on each of your 4 subjects. That means you should write 4 separate paragraphs that have no connection with one another.
You should familiarize yourself with methods of describing objects, places, processes, nature, climate, people, etc.
Order of Space
Organizing and arranging descriptive details in a deliberate order presents to the reader’s imagination the graphic image of what is being described. A deliberate order maximizes the reader’s knowledge, understanding, and interpretation of what is being described. For example, when describing a place, first identify a starting point, a location, and go forward to backward or right to left of the location, using appropriately relevant phrases (far, near, next, below, on topic, beside, beneath, across, under, above, beyond, over, etc.) to help the reader visualize the entire place.
Order of Time
Descriptions that involve time also involve actions or events that have the beginning the middle and the end. The author should be aware of these functions of time and when describing an experience that occupies an amount of time, painstakingly show the unfolding of the event from the beginning to the end.
There is macro time and micro time. Macro time applies to the dating of events in the life of the universe where time is measured in trillions, billions, and millions of years. Macro time applies also to the dating of events in the life of humanity where time is measured in millennial, centennial, and decades of the Gregorian calendar.
Micro time applies mostly to the annual, monthly, weekly, daily, and hourly use of and reference to time in the context of a society or culture. In the Western tradition, a day is 24 hours. In some other cultures a day is the time between sunrise and sunset.
When describing time, use words and phrases that denote the amount of time you mean, applying the order of beginning and the end and vice versa to let the reader know the progression of the action that is taking place.
Order of Importance
Things and objects should be arranged according to their actual, sentimental, contextual, and perceived values (If I was writing this instruction a century ago, I would say, “When describing a person, begin from the top.” Today, I hesitate to say that. Now, I will simply say, “It all depends.” We have heard of cases where only the type of snickers worn by a woman helped to identify her.).
Generally speaking, describe things from the least important to the most important or vice versa, depending on the writing situation.
Order of Climax
Many actions and processes occur in the progressive order of climax and should be described accordingly. They include the following:
weight—light to heavy
size—small to large, short to long,
motion—from slow to fast
sound—from whisper to explosion, silence to explosion, calm to violence (fury)
condition—cold to hot, comical to serious, ugliness to beauty, clean to dirty
event—from casual to intimate
intensity—simple to complex, mild to harsh/severe/critical, calm to violence (fury),
You can also reverse the order if doing so is sensible and necessary.
Do the following in order to complete and submit the paragraphs:
1. Give a short title to each paragraph (Example: Description of My Dog Fido)
2. Place a double space between each paragraph although each paragraph’s text must be single-spaced.
Suggested Areas for Topics
1. A place crowded with people or things.
2. Examples from nature–vegetation, weather, landscapes
3. Action and processes
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