According to Anderson (2001: 200):
Description is a writing strategy that depicts an observable subject with vivid sensory details. If you are describing the rose you observed on the walk to your classroom or office, you might convey its smell, texture, exact coloration, and shape, right down to that drop of dew glistening on one freshly opened outer peal.
Characteristics of Descriptive essay:
- It focuses on an observable subject
- It employs sensory detail—specific details related to the senses.
- It relates the detail in an order that allows the reader to grasp the subject, using cue words to form transitions from one detail to the next.
Guidelines for writing description:
- Consider Audience and Purpose
– Factual information about your subject:
In this case your purpose is objective—having to do with facts rather than feelings or impressions about a subject.
– Dominant impression of your subject:
In this case your purpose is subjective—stressing feelings and impressions rather than factual information about your subject.
- Focus Range of Subject
– Concrete subjects
– Abstract subjects
- Select Important Details
- Follow Clear Order
- Employ Vivid Words
- Anderson, Marilyn. Keys to Successful Writing – Unlocking the Writer Within. New York; Longman, 2001.
Example of a Descriptive Essay
The following text has been taken from Anderson’s book, page 201-202.
Brend Grant wanted to describe an object that has special meaning for her-a photograph of her two granddaughters.
Brenda Grant retired from the workplace to care for her two grandchildren. Soon she was urged by her adult children to attend college. Quite anxious about her writing skills when she first returned to school, Brenda later asserted, “I’ve learned that I really can write. Now I rely on my life experiences to help me write my essays.” Although Brenda continues to struggle with clear organization of her material in her essays, she feels much more confident about her writing. Upon completing community college requirements, Brenda plans to leave retirement to become a child care coordinator.
DOUBLE A’S, DOUBLE JOYS
Alexia and Ashley, my granddaughters, are the two joys of my life. Alexia is almost four years old, and Ashely, the baby, is a year and a half. They are both beautiful in their youth and enthusiasm when for a while, I was the grandmother who took care of them. When their monther, Tiffany, was in the army and their father, Moses, drove a school bus, out of necessity I became Alexia and Ashley’s baby-sitter, cook, and playmate. Today, although the girls live far away from me, I carry a special picture of Alexia and Ashley in my wallet.
Whenever I look at this picture of “my two A’s” sitting together with smiles on their faces, I remember picture day at Lock Child Care Center: I dressed both girls alike and took them to school. Upon seeing them, the cameraman said, “We will call this picture two sisters in love.” In the picture, Alexia wears a white ribbon in her longer, wavy hair, while Ashley’s little bit much curlier hair is held in place on top of her head with a small yellow plastic barrette. Ashely and Alexia both wear white, short-sleeved shirts with small yellow sunflowers. Their pants are blue-checked with the same sunflower pattern featured in their shirts. They both wear dark blue tennies. The picture background is a giant yellow crayon box on the left and a huge blue crayon with lighter blue background to the right. Across the girls’ legs is a red crayon, which both Alexia and Ashley are holding as they sit on a blue carpeted step.
In spite of their almost identical clothing, I can see differences in my granddaughters’ personalities when I look at their facial expressions in this picture. Alexia, who has a larger smile on her face revealing her teeth, is more outgoing and friendly. She’s like a playful pup. Ashley, whose eyebrows are raised as she looks up as the cameramen, can be as timid as a mouse around strangers. Although both girls enjoy playing with their friends, in this picture Ashley has carefully positioned her hands in a way that reminds me of how much she likes to be the boss when she is playing. In contrast, Alexia’s hand positioning is more carefree, and her bandaged finger reveals one of her traits: she often get hurt in her play.
I remember that right after this picture was taken, Ashley looked around at the school and said to Alexia, “I’m a big girl like you and I want to go to school with you, Alexia.” Now that the girls’ mother is stationed in Atlanta, Georgia, their father and Alexia and Ashley have also moved to Atlanta so they can all be together. I grew so close to my granddaughters because of my responsibilities looking after them, and now I find this picture helps me remember them when I get lonely.
Total words: 481