Ask them to use specific details. Read one example as follows: Elvis Presley wrote me a two-sentence letter after I sent him a poem I written about him and a picture of my sister in a bikini.
The first time I heard him play, Buddy Rich through me a drum stick during a drum roll and never missed a beat. I asked Mick Jagger to sign a program for me, but he said he preferred to sign my left, white shoe. And he did. Have the students write three of their own. Then have students, one by one, read them to the class. Other students are allowed to ask three questions that pertain specifically to the details.
Then ask for a vote as to which story is true and which were fictitious. It is surprising how many students find that they are already excellent "storytellers. It also provides an experience to write descriptively, creating original dialogue for an existing text by examining body language, shots, and pacing. Then, divide the students into groups so that they can create a dialogue for the clip that was played. In doing so, each group should consider both body language, pacing, and shots so that an appropriate tone and plot can be applied.
By reviewing the clip with the sound track in place, students can see how their assumption make the intentions of the filmmakers as well as get a greater idea of how their judgments are based in their experiences with other media.
Obscure films will probably work best since fewer students will know them already. The scene should have plenty of action or a variety of characters. Play the film clip to the class without sound, but first explain that afterwards they will write a descriptive account of the clip as a group. Suggest that they might want to focus on a single character, invent dialogue, depict the place and time, create a situation or background, or say what happens next.
Let them write and share their descriptions with the class. Play the clip again with the sound on and provide the necessary contextual details. Since its intent is more conceptual that practical, it suits any draft stage. Good for a short story or personal essay assignment. This exercise allows students to take a point of view and create a context for it.
They then give the pictures purpose in relation to the context they have created. It forces them to bounce ideas off one another in small groups, and to create a plausible start for a fictional work using a point of view other than the personal "I". With relevance to this character, find an object in the picture that serves as important to the camera person. Describe what it is and why it is important.
You may also choose to do this exercise by projecting up to 5 snap shots on the overhead. Take time to discuss as a class. Drawing on one of these examples, students will learn to craft meaning s from a single object.
Have them find places where the meaning and image merge. After this discussion, have students, individually, choose an object important to them and free write for 15 minutes total—5 minutes for each section on each of the following: a specific person it is related to; a specific place it reminds them of; and a specific memory of an event that it conjures in their minds. Then have them think about associated memories. Students should be sure to use concrete sensory detail describe the object using their five senses in their descriptions: what does the object look like?
Feel like? Smell or taste like? Where did it come from? Does it have other associations attached to it? The idea is that by stringing together random parts of speech, sentences can be constructed which, while they do not make "sense," have, nonetheless, an internal grammatical logic.
Some students who have trouble visualizing what kinds of words fit into each category Noun, Verb, Adjective, Adverb may feel too embarrassed to ask, so give a few quick examples to get them going. Ask each student to write down two nouns, two adjectives, one verb and one adverb — each on its own card. After they have written down their words collect them into four stacks by color and shuffle them.
Distribute the cards so that each student once again has a verb, an adverb, and two each of nouns and adjectives. At this point they should begin to arrange their cards to form sentences. Articles and possessive pronouns may be inserted wherever needed and verb tenses may be changed or nouns changed from singular to plural or vice versa. When all are finished go around the room and ask each student to share his or her sentence.
Discuss each sentence in terms of language play and grammar. You might emphasize grammar and focus on subject-verb agreement, subject-action-object, or the effect of punctuation. Or, you might focus on the power of word play, active, illustrative verbs, odd pairings, connotations, metaphor, etc. If time allows, students could be asked to write a paragraph or a poem around their sentence to share and discuss with the rest of the class, or as a journal.
This activity accompanies Autumn T. This activity can serve as an icebreaker if used near the beginning of the semester , or it can be used to re-energize your students around when you are about halfway into the semester or even near the end. If not, then plan on minutes. Give them a minute to picture their object fully.
Where is it? Where are you? What does it smell like? What color is it? What does it look like? Who does it remind you of? What is its texture? What does it taste like? You shake the object. What does it sound like? You get a tap on the shoulder. How do they react to the object? How do they interact with it? What do they say about the object? Allow students to write about the object for about 7 minutes.
Pick some people to share, or better let everyone read his or her piece, allowing a question or two from other students after each reading. Since these are objects that the students care about and come in contact with often, there should be a built-in attention to detail and an excitement level in writing and, hopefully talking about each piece.
Back to Top What Is It? It makes students develop and possibly appreciate a creative approach to the writing method. By following a set of questions provided by the instructor, students will write a prose style response — not just a list or catalog. They should then write a creative response using the following questions or a similar format: You look around the room and see your object.
How well can you see it? Where is the light coming from? You walk over to your object. The beach is nearly deserted. You open the box. How does it make you feel? What are you going to do about it? What is the receipt for? How did it get on your coffee table? Write about your expertise. Think about something you know how to do well. It can be anything from washing the dishes to selling stocks. Write a few paragraphs or more if you wish explaining some aspect of how to do what you do. Assume your reader is completely ignorant about the subject.
Break down the steps in a way that makes the reader understand exactly what to do, without using business jargon or buzzwords. Write a stream of consciousness page. This is an easy and fun exercise. You want to write it in longhand rather than typing on your computer, as handwriting slows down the process and allows more time for your creative brain to do its work. Grab a pen and blank pad and simply start writing.
Write down whatever comes into your brain, no matter how nonsensical or disjointed. Write a story told to you. In this exercise, you want to recount a story told to you by another person.
It can be a story one of your parents or grandparents shared about something that happened many years ago, or it can be a more recent event a friend or family member recounted. Or you can tell a story you learned in school or through reading about a well-known person or event. The story can be funny, sad, or educational — but it should be interesting, entertaining, or engaging in some way. Whether your book is fiction or non-fiction, readers love stories.
They enjoy relating to the lives and experiences of other people. Pretend to be someone else. Description as part of a larger work: This is the most common kind of descriptive writing.
An example would be a section of text within a novel that establishes the setting by describing a room or a passage that introduces a character with a physical description. Description is integral in poetry writing. Poetry emphasizes imagery, and imagery is rendered in writing via description, so descriptive writing is a crucial skill for most poets.
How Much Description is Too Much? Classic literature was dense with description whereas modern literature usually keeps description to a minimum. Compare the elaborate descriptions in J.
I think this radical change in how we approach description is directly tied to the wide availability of film, television, and photography. You would be fairly certain that most of your readers had never seen such an island and had no idea what it looked like. Nowadays, we all know what a tropical island looks like, thanks to the wide availability of media. This might explain why few books on the craft of writing address descriptive writing.
The focus is usually on other elements, like character, plot, theme, and structure. For contemporary writers, the trick is to make the description as precise and detailed as possible while keeping it to a minimum. Some authors craft descriptions that are so lovely, I do notice — but in a good way. Some of them are so compelling that I pause to read them again. Here are some general tips for descriptive writing: Use distinct descriptions that stand out and are memorable.
Give the reader something to remember. Say the character is short with mousy hair and sky-blue eyes. Make description active: Consider the following description of a room: There was a bookshelf in the corner. A desk sat under the window. The walls were beige, and the floor was tiled. Try something like this: A massive oak desk sat below a large picture window and beside a shelf overflowing with books.
Hardcovers, paperbacks, and binders were piled on the dingy tiled floor in messy stacks.
Not only are the lines insanely long, the park itself is crowded beyond belief.
And he did. Where is it?
What was the name of her lover in the mailroom. If not, then plan on minutes. They can adapt and expand their fortunes but they must stick to the original spirit and intent of the fortune. How did you get rid of it and how do you feel now that it is gone? Finally, after discussing the differences between the bare bones of the first paragraph and the rich details of their explosions, have students take out their most recent drafts and choose a sentence they feel is ripe for explosion with actual details this time.
This is an easy and fun exercise. Then have them think about associated memories.
And what does this really say about us as a people? Look for similes and metaphors to better express your ideas. Why do those particular images stand out and what do they do for the essay? For example, instead of pausing to describe a character, engage that character in dialogue with another character.
When or where did you first eat this food? Who are you? Try to unite all the sensory details you provide through one main idea.
Pick up the object. Take me there — descriptions I can see!
Helping students write descriptively is a huge challenge! You open the box. This exercise helps you think about your reader as a real person with emotions — a person who can be moved and inspired by your writing.
You might emphasize grammar and focus on subject-verb agreement, subject-action-object, or the effect of punctuation. How is this food prepared?
Do they press a thumb against the mirror to leave a subtle mark? Keeping with the theme of most theme parks, sports events, insurance companies, and religious institutions, Universal Studios squeezes you for every penny your worth. And what does this really say about us as a people? Is the transition effective? Drawing on one of these examples, students will learn to craft meaning s from a single object.
How can the language be altered to create another tone? Where are you?