Welcome to week 3 of this semester and your second writing assignment..
I hope you all enjoyed writing and reading the last assignment. If you did not get your text corrected by someone please let me know. No texts should go uncorrected!
This week we will tturn our attention to another useful device used in both fiction and non-fiction, the descriptive technique. As we learned, narrative paragraphs describe a sequence of events or tell a story. The logical arrangement of ideas and sentences in a narrative paragraph is chronological - according to time order. But what if you were asked to describe how something looks - a place, a thing, or a person? How should you arrange your ideas and sentences in the paragraph? Obviously, time order would not be logical. When you are describing the way something looks - its physical appearance - it is not time but space that is important. Therefore, you should arrange your sentences and details according to where the objects being described are located. This type of organization is called spatial organization. In a descriptive paragraph, you must make the location of the objects being described very clear.
As literary students you may be asked to relate the role a character plays in a novel or as design students you may be asked to relate the role a person plays in a successful design, as a designer for instance. But how would you describe a person and their role? Depending on the subject or assignment, you could describe the person's physical appearance, behaviour, inner thoughts or the influence the person had on you or others.
A person's appearance can be described in many ways. It is possible to tell about the person's style of clothing, manner of walking, colour and style of hair, facial appearance, body shape, and expression or even the person's way of talking. Just what a writer selects to describe depends on the writer's chosen topic and purpose. No matter what the topic, however, the writer is a painter with words, so the description must be vivid but also coherent - logically arranged - so that the reader can clearly envision who is being described. The following paragraph describes a person's face with a spatial organizationt. Look at the following description and see if you can get a good image of what Mary looks like:
In this paragraph the reader can not only tell what Mary looks like but also what the author's attitude about her outer appearance is. Last week I mentioned topic sentences: a topic sentence summarizes the entire idea of the paragraph a writer is relating in one short sentence. In narratives a topic sentence often comes at the very end in order to build up suspense for the reader. Generally speaking, however, in most academic writing, the topic sentence is the first sentence in the paragraph and summarizes the ideas that will follow. A good/clear topic sentence not only states the topic (in this case Mary) but also supplies a strong controlling idea which states "how the writer feels about the topic".
More often though than simply describing a person's out appearance because one loves the person, there is a deeper reason. The following paragraph by a former OWC student describes a person but the descriptions are only a support for an underlying political standpoint the author wants to make.
Now it is your turn to think of a person you admire and to describe the influence he/she had on you or the world. Try to use very descriptive adjectives and possibly look up some in either a dictionary or translator to add them to your active vocabulary. Students from KISD should describe a famous designer. Try to write at least four-hundred words this time. If you want to describe your person from two perspectives, such as outer and inner, then you should be sure and separate your text into different paragraphs with different topic sentences.
Make sure though that your paragraphs actually look like paragraphs with one topic sentence. Academic writing is much more structured than e-mails or letters, so that everything that belongs together stays together. In other words, your paragraph should look like a box when you are finished and not like lots of little paragraphs.
P.S. You don't have to be as sappy as the author of "Mary" was but you can be, of course!
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