Elements of Descriptive Writing (part 4) – by Bethany Hall

Elements of Descriptive Writing (part 3) – Bethany Hall
February 14, 2017
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Elements of Descriptive Writing (part 4) – by Bethany Hall

Welcome back for Bethany’s fifth part of demonstrating the elements of descriptive writing.

Today she helps us understand the importance of using our senses.

  1. Careful organization

In order for the reader to understand and enjoy the descriptive writing, it needs to be organised in a way that makes sense.

There are three ways to organise our descriptive writings:

  • Chronological(time)- best for describing events, arranges details in time
  • Spatial (location) – best for describing a place, uses location, such as bottom top, left and right, front and back
  • Order of importance- best for describing objects and people, puts the most important details at the beginning or at the end

Now that we have all the elements of descriptive writing, let us look at a descriptive text.

First of all, it’s noisy. You wouldn’t think that it is. But every few minutes, when your eyes are fixed on the pitch black sky in anticipation, there is an almighty BANG! 

Try to imagine an explosion. But not a terrible and vicious explosion that injures and destroys. No, this explosion erupts in vibrant colour and dances in the sky. Sometimes, it shatters into a million pieces, it would be impossible to count them all. And sometimes, it flurries around itself, creating effervescent patterns in the night sky. And still, other times it tumbles like a scarlet waterfall or floats like a glittering silver shower. It spins, it spirals, it spurts, and it sprays. It spatters and splatters and scatters.

 Now I have not forgotten about the colours, and however could I?

The midnight sky contrasted wonderfully with the vivacious colours of this benevolent explosion. There was red. Blood red. Like the colour of a lover’s rose. And green, in all of its natural goodness. There was purple, the colour of royalty. And silver and gold and blue.

The lights above us illuminated the ground beneath us to remind us that the hope for the future is what makes the present worthwhile.

 

First of all, it’s noisy. You wouldn’t think that it is. But every few minutes, when your eyes are fixed on the pitch black sky in anticipation, there is an almighty BANG! 

Try to imagine an explosion. But not a terrible and vicious explosion that injures

Try to imagine an explosion. But not a terrible and vicious explosion that injures and destroys. No, this explosion erupts in vibrant colour and dances in the sky. Sometimes, it shatters into a million pieces, it would be impossible to count them all. And sometimes, it flurries around itself, creating effervescent patterns in the night sky. And still, other times it tumbles like a scarlet waterfall or floats like a glittering silver shower. It spins, it spirals, it spurts, and it sprays. It spatters and splatters and scatters.

 Now I have not forgotten about the colours, and however could I?

The midnight sky contrasted wonderfully with the vivacious colours of this benevolent explosion. There was red. Blood red. Like the colour of a lover’s rose. And green, in all of its natural goodness. There was purple, the colour of royalty. And silver and gold and blue.

 

The lights above us illuminated the ground beneath us to remind us that the hope for the future is what makes the present worthwhile.

 

What do you think this text is about?

If you said a firework display, then you are correct!

However, this text never directly states that is a written account of a fireworks display. So how do we know that this is true?

The writer has created a mental picture by using the elements of descriptive writing and has described a firework display without ever saying what it is.

 

Firstly, the writer uses sensory details. Can you identify sensory details in the text?

The first sense the writer appeals to is the sense of sound. The text opens with, “First of all, it’s noisy. You wouldn’t think that it is. But every few minutes, when your eyes are fixed on the pitch black sky in anticipation, there is an almighty BANG!”

The writer states that it is “noisy” and then uses onomatopoeia to describe what it sounds like, “BANG!”

The sense that the text focuses on is sight. The writer describes the colour of the sky, “pitch black sky’. The way the fireworks move in the sky is also described, the writer uses many strong verbs to do this such as, erupts, dances, shatters, flurries, tumbles, etc. The writer also uses adjectives to describe what the display looks like, vibrant colour, a million pieces, effervescent patterns, etc.

Does the writer appeal to any other senses?

Why or why not?

The writer does not appeal to any more sense as this would be out of place. Although fireworks do have a smell, it is a chemical one and mentioning this in the text would detract from the feeling of the piece. It is dangerous and foolish to touch as well as taste fireworks, therefore these senses are left out.

Indiana University of Pennsylvania offers some more tips on descriptive writing geared toward the more advanced English writer. http://www.iup.edu/writingcenter/writing-resources/organization-and-structure/descriptive-writing/

 


 

Bethany Hall
Bethany Hall
"Hi there! My name is Bethany and I am the biggest English nerd you will ever meet! I have studied English and Linguistics to make sure that I have a full and complete understanding of the language that I love so much. I also have a teaching certificate so that I can better teach my students to understand and love the English language as much as I do." Bethany Hall is a writer from South Africa,with a degree in Linguistics and English, and experience in content writing, technical writing and journalism. She has a versatile writing style and vast knowledge of the English language and its outworkings. Bethany is also an English Teacher for World's English.

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