Your essay will describe a place that is important to you for some reason.
As your text points out, “Description can be a supportive technique that develops part of an essay, or it can be the dominant technique used throughout an essay” (84). In this essay assignment, description will be the dominant technique used to develop a distinct impression of your place.
You will need to use both objective or subjective description, although the latter is best in describing a place that is significant to you. Remember that subjective description often creates imagery which appeals to the senses: taste, touch, sound, sight, smell. While you need not appeal to every sense in your paper, be sure to give the reader enough description so that he/she can be a part of your topic’s development. You must use figurative language in your descriptions—a minimum of one simile, one metaphor, and one personification. If you are unfamiliar with figurative language, review your St. Martin’s Handbook.
Be aware of your audience (your classmates AND me) and your tone. Your choice of words may greatly influence your reader’s impression of your topic. Be careful to present your topic as you would like it to be interpreted. Writing a descriptive essay is deceivingly simple. Writers have a tendency to make one of two mistakes: narrating or telling. Narrating, of course, refers to storytelling. ANY TIME you are giving the sequence of events, explaining what happens in a chain of events, or relying on the progression of events as the basis of your essay, you are narrating. Clearly, that is not the purpose of this assignment. The second type of mistake, telling, does not fit the purpose of the assignment either because the writer is not appealing to the senses to create the images. The writer is simply telling; for example, the writer may describe his/her house as a big, brown, two-story with a green lawn and lots of trees. What is big in this case? To someone who has lived in an apartment all his/her life, big may be a house with two bedrooms and an eighth of an acres patch of lawn. To someone who has lived in a five-bedroom house, big may refer to Bill Gates’ private estate. The same goes for the rest of the adjectives in the sentence referring to the house; they tell instead of show. Instead, the writer could say that the coffee brown house with its two wings splitting off of the main corridor like the outstretched wings of a condor spilled out onto the lawn which looked as if it had been uprooted from the gardens of Versailles (a bit overdone, yes, but you get the picture). The comparisons and specific adjectives (the shading of the color brown) help to create a visual image for the reader that is much easier to imagine.
Write a 750-word essay using description as the chief method of development. Follow the guidelines for formatting as described in Lesson 2. Your essay will describe a place that is important to you. Choose a place that has meaning or importance for you and describe it for your audience. Remember that goal here is NOT to list information about the place; instead, the goal is to describe the place in a way that makes the reader feel as if he/she has been there and understands why that place is important to you. Think outside of the box here. What places hold meaning to you–a place to which you’ve been deployed, a place where you went as a child, a place that has since been destroyed, an everyday place (like a coffee shop, for example)?
For this essay and the remaining essays, you will have three required parts for submission: the draft, a peer review, and the final revised copy. Each part has its own due date, as reflected in the course calendar and in subsequent lessons.
Post a 2 1/2 page draft (about 750 words, excluding the articles “the,” “a,” and “an”) using details, as explained in the reading assignments. Follow the format requirements for MLA as listed in the Syllabus and in your SSH. An outline must precede the essay. For this essay, you may write in the first person (I). Save your draft of the Descriptive Essay (including the outline) in one complete file named “yourlastnameDescDraft” and post it to your Group Discussion Board using the instructions at the end of this lesson.
Brainstorm for topics.
Accumulate as many details as you can about your topic, and then sift through them, discarding those that are irrelevant, weak, or unrelated to the impression you would like to convey.
Organize your ideas. Create an outline BEFORE writing the paper; remember that an outline is due with each essay.
Use vivid language and varied sentence structure.
Include your so-what point.
Check the syllabus’ Course Calendar for due dates.
Feedback will be given on your rough draft and will generally be received within 7 days of your submission. As with every essay for this course, I do not mark every single error and comment on every minute detail of the essay; that is the job of a proofreader. I may choose to “hard grade” (that is, mark every error) in only one paragraph as a way to point out the kinds of details to which you must pay attention. As your instructor, I will provide you with some specific notations and some general comments that you will need to apply in order to make your own choices in revision.
FINAL NOTES: ALL of your essays for this class must come to a specific point, the “So What?” conclusion. Make sure you keep your point in mind while you are writing this essay and use the dominant impression you are making to help convey this message.
For your first essay, I provided specific comments for each paragraph, including detailed grammar notations. For this and all subsequent essays, I will provide general comments for revising the content and will choose one paragraph to “hard read”. That means I will notate all of the errors, grammar and otherwise, in that paragraph. The goal of this course is to improve writing through a systematic process; becoming your own proofreader/editor is part of that process.